Writing is magical. Ok, I’m being dramatic. At the very least, it’s powerful. It can paint a picture, convey an idea, and leave the reader with a lasting impression. And that’s the point – a lasting impression of you, your company, and your product or service. The world of electronic communication with autocorrect and spell-check has changed our writing abilities and styles, though. And the fast pace around us means that we scarcely proofread, nevermind edit what we’ve typed.
But, since your emails may be the first or only contact you have with others, it’s crucial to get them right. Here are some quick tips to writing and sending top-notch emails:
- No text-typing – use full words, not “r u comin 2 da meetin?” That’s an exaggeration, I admit. But avoid the temptation to shorten words like about (abt), regarding (re:) , with regard to (WRT), and so on.
- Remember that, once you’ve sent an email, it’s out there; on servers and in inboxes. Don’t ever include something that you’re not prepared to publish in a newspaper.
- Emails don’t convey emotion. So, if it’s a sensitive topic or a situation in which the recipient needs to know context or nuance, rather phone or meet with them to convey your message and everything that goes along with it clearly.
- Bullet points tend to clarify things. Try to bullet-point your email to break it up into smaller, more manageable sections, if necessary.
- Read your email through the eyes of your gran, or someone else that isn’t tech-savvy. Would she understand it? If not, be clearer, without being patronising.
- Reply within the day of someone sending you an email, even if only to tell them that you have received it and will reply to it by xyz (be specific – tomorrow, Tuesday, etc…)
- Read your email before you send it. If it is a professional email, read it twice.
- Use a neat, clean font and ensure that your signature is professional and not too busy.
- Create standard replies for questions that you often get asked or issues with which you’re frequently dealing. Pay attention to the grammar and spelling, and then simply tweak them when the need arises. This saves time and minimises the opportunities for errors.
- If you need to ask a question or request feedback, try to keep it to one item or issue per email. This makes the issue easier to understand and quicker to resolve.
- Don’t put the recipient’s email address in until you’re absolutely sure that the email is ready for sending. This eliminates the possibility of sending it accidentally before you have proofread or even finished it.
- Use your subject line to convey the essence of your email in just a few words. Good examples include, “Request for printing quote”, “Rescheduling tomorrow’s meeting” or “Signed contract”.
- Make your sender name relevant and appropriate so that the recipient knows the source of the email and has a personal connection to it.
- My personal favourite – don’t misuse uppercase letters (DON’T MISS LUNCH AT BARNEY’S TODAY) or exclamation points (Sorry the report is late!!!!!). There should never be more than one exclamation point and, even then, no exclamation point is even better for professional emails.
These simple pointers will make a massive difference to the quality of the emails you’re sending out and the impression that clients (existing or prospective) form of you.