Saturday, June 20, 2009

Tips For Writing More Effective Emails

Most business people receive dozens, even hundreds, of emails each and every day. As email has become the primary means of communication in the business world, it’s very important to create messages that effectively communicate your point while presenting a professional image.

Have you ever needed to email someone - a stranger, a business associate, asking them for a favor? How can you compose an email such that they will be read and responded to? How do we effectively email someone who gets a lot of email?

Here are some helpful tips for writing emails:

~Keep it Clear & Concise. To write with clarity it is essential to keep the message no longer than necessary. Keep it concise, including only the most important details, and be sure to get straight to the point. If an in-depth discussion is needed, schedule a phone call rather than trading drawn out emails. It’s more efficient. Also, try to stick to just one point. If you want to cover several topics, write different emails with the title showing the correct topic. This also makes archiving emails easier.

~Use proper spelling and grammar. Poorly spelled or grammatically incorrect emails make you appear unprofessional and reduce the effectiveness of your message. Always double-check your emails before sending them, and make use of spelling and grammar-check tools. Remember the quality of your English will also have a subconscious impact on how you are perceived by others.

~Think (and read) before you write. In our swiftness to respond to all our emails in a timely fashion, many of us neglect to fully read the mail we’re answering and consequently overlook vital bits of information. Most people will have had the experience of sending or responding to an email, which soon after, they regret writing. So before you send a message or respond to one, make sure you’ve completely read and understood the original email or the text you are writing; if not, ask for a clarification to avoid further confusion.

~Be polite. Email is a convenient way to communicate, but convenience shouldn’t be an excuse for overlooking manners. Remember that an email can easily be misinterpreted because it is a very limited form of communication; usually when we speak we have the advantage of using facial expressions. When communicating with clients or superiors, it’s important not to ignore fundamental courtesies. Address the recipient with a salutation like “Hello” or “Dear”, and be sure to include a closing like “Regards”. Always use “Please” and “Thank you”!

~Use subject lines effectively.
Your subject line should be a concise summary of the content of your email. The recipient should directly know what the email contains or what the request is.

~Keep it Simple and Short. Simplicity is the essence of a good email. Try and convey the point using the smallest amount of words and sentences. Don’t be afraid to use bullet points or numbers to better organize your thoughts.

~Set Time Aside for Writing Emails. Just because we have a few minutes to spare doesn’t mean we should check our email again and again. The trouble with that is if we try to respond to emails when we have a lack of time, our replies will be rushed and perhaps inappropriate. It is better to set aside time during the day when we can write the best response without any unnecessary time pressure.

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