With billions of emails sent each day, it’s not surprising our emails aren’t having the impact we would like. As a form of communication, they’re fast, convenient and accessible to all, but are they effective? They can be if you are willing to follow some simple rules for writing effective emails.
Regardless of what you say, size matters. We have all been a recipient of a long email, you know the one that makes you sigh even before you start to read it? Putting too much in an email will get a negative reaction from the outset. Keep your email short. If you have a number of subjects to discuss, consider writing a number of emails. It is easier to respond to and deal with one item at a time rather than bombard a person with an inquisition.
Get to the point and get there quickly. Let the person know what the email is about in the first sentence; don’t make him or her wait. Getting to the point quickly will hold interest. If there is an action required by the receiver tell him or her that, if a person is clear about what is required he or she will act more quickly.
Writing clear subject lines will assist in the clarity required for effective communications. How can you inform the receiver of the content of your email. Think of your subject line like a headline in a newspaper – you have to grab attention fast. Write a subject that has meaning and don’t be afraid to change a subject line if the initial subject of the email is no longer relevant. If an email is going back and forth and the content and relevance changes, change the subject. If you don’t, the receiver may get confused as to context and misinterpret the email.
If you are sending an important email don’t send it immediately after writing. It is wise to take your time and proof-read your email. Alternatively, get someone else to read it for you. If you are writing about a delicate matter, engage someone else’s opinion to ensure the tone of your email is the tone you intend. And don’t forget to consider if an email is the right form of communication at all.
Always consider timing. This will depend on the goal of your email. You don’t want to get lost in an overloaded inbox. Monday mornings are busy because people are catching up with the previous week. Friday evenings are risky as people leave early for the weekend. Think about the person receiving the email in relation to your subject, when will it suit hime or her to read your content?
Remember to include all relevant information and links. If you are asking someone to do something for you and you don’t include the links, the likelihood is he or she won’t bother. I regularly receive emails from people who want me to check out their software or their website and they have forgotten to send me the link to their website. People are time-deficient; make it easy for them.
Don’t only send emails when you are asking for something. Consider the other person. If I only hear from you when you want something I may not respond so well to your requests. Think how you can help others. If you have clients, send them relevant articles or information when you come across it. Keep yourself fresh in their minds. If you want to sell to someone ask first what you can do for them before you ask them to buy from you. Every relationship involves give and take.
If you have a short message to send someone consider using only the subject line and [EOM]. [EOM] short for “End of Message.” If you want to tell someone that you received his or her message or that you are clear about what you have to do you could try the following:
SUBJECT: Got your message, I will take care of it [EOM]
This will save the receiver time by not having to open the email. Every second saved adds up to minutes, hours and days that you could be using to do something else.
If you are a person who is not in control of your emails you will likely find that the emails you send are not getting the response you would like. If you don’t reply to other people in a timely manner they will likely not have the respect for you or for your communications that you would like.
In essence, effective emails, like any form of communication should be clear, concise and courteous. Keep these rules in mind when writing your emails and you can’t go wrong.
Featured photo credit: Laptop Stock Image by ChefMattRock via flickr.com
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