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6 Tips for Writing Emails That Will Get Opened

6 Tips for Writing Emails That Will Get Opened
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    Email is my favourite medium of communication.

    It’s personal, easy to execute and takes little time. In today’s world, it is the easiest way to get in touch with somebody…no doubt about it. However, it does take a bit of planning and requires you to put in some thought before you actually compose a message. Your friends and family may be delighted to receive an email from you, but this might not be the case when you are writing with a business purpose in mind.

    The more influential a person is, the busier they are. They might be receiving hundreds of emails in a single day. Unlike most people, they don’t open each and every single email; instead they scan through the subject lines to see which ones catch their eye.

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    You won’t get any closer to your goals unless they actually open your email – and read it. Here are 6 tips that will greatly increase your chances of emails being read — and responded to.

    1. Clarity of Purpose

    Before you even put your fingers on the keyboard, think why you want to write the email (its purpose) and what you want the recipient to do (action). Gather all the information you need to provide.

    Here are some reasons why you want to approach someone who is very important to you:

    • Get in touch with an A-list blogger to pitch a guest post
    • Let a famous author know how much you admire their work
    • Seek a referral from someone
    • Want to interview somebody important
    • Approach a prospect to sell your services

    Notice all the reasons for connecting with someone are vastly different from each other. By being clear in your head you can produce coherent, concise, and effective emails.

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    2. Effective Subject Line

    Compose a subject line that tells them why they need to open the email. Do not send out messages with vague or dogdy subject lines:

    • Please read this (or) Can I have 20 seconds of your time? (Don’t beg for attention)
    • Very urgent (Unless it is, and it will still benefit by adding more information)
    • Hello (Refrain from one word subject lines that say nothing about the message inside)
    • Can I take you for lunch to pick your brain? (Making a request is a huge no-no!)
    • Invitation to join our affiliate program (Making the message sound like it is automated and coming from a website or an online service)
    • Free gift for you inside (Spammy – avoid at all costs even if you are sending a token of appreciation)

    Say what you need to say immediately, preferably in the subject line if possible. People are too busy these days and if your subject doesn’t interest them, they will not click on it. Write a subject line that sums up the purpose of your email (refer to point 1). If you are not entirely clear on your message, you will find it hard to write an interesting subject line that will entice the reader to open it.

    3. A Friendly Salutation/Get to the Point Quickly

    When writing to someone you don’t know, it is better to start with a ‘Hello’ instead of saying ‘Dear Mr Smith’. This is too formal and out of place for informal communication such as email. When you write to someone known to you, just say ‘Hi (Name)’. Don’t try and go overboard unless you know them outside of professional circles.

    Email is meant for simple, quick communication. Say what you want to say, say it quickly, and say it just once.

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    4. Clear Communication

    Make the purpose of your email clear. Let them know how it relates to them, otherwise your email will get deleted in short order.

    They can’t see your body language or tone of your voice to gauge whether you are kidding or not. There is a greater possibility of your emails being misread. Jokes usually do not transfer well, especially when writing to somebody for the first time.

    Remember these principles of effective communication:

    • Replace longer words with shorter ones.
    • Keep your sentences short; use fewer and shorter paragraphs.
    • Break up your paragraphs and use bullet points to make it easier to read on the screen.
    • Pay attention to your spelling and grammar.
    • Edit for jargon. If not, you convey lack of attention to detail and may portray an unprofessional image.
    • Keep it brief, short and concise. Don’t ramble.
    • Give complete information; the recipient should not have to get back to you for more information. Avoid the possibility of confusion and delays.
    • Do not provide lengthy background information. Attach a file if extra information is required.
    • When writing in response to somebody’s email, mirror their approach. How do they usually communicate with people? Did they write two sentences to your four paragraphs email? Match their style to achieve results of your writing efforts.

    5. Informal — Yet Courteous

    Write as if you are talking to them. Keep it conversational, yet never say anything you wouldn’t say to somebody’s face. When feeling emotional, write your email and save it as a draft. Go over it when you are feeling calmer and revise. Always write polite emails.

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    Always think of email as being public. Presume any email you write can be read by anybody else — and write accordingly.

    6. Clear Plan of Action

    What do you want them to do?

    • Perform a specific action. They need to give you more details on a project.
    • Respond with information. They need to confirm if they are available for a conference call the next day.
    • Read only. They need to read your message to clearly understand something. No response is necessary. You are away and need to reschedule a meeting. You will contact again.

    End with short thank you. And don’t forget to add an email signature, your contact details, website, etc. Always write a business email with this point in mind: everyone is busy and gets a lot of email.

    Follow these tips and you’ll not only be able to send better emails, but you’ll send ones that are worth getting opened.

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    (Photo credit: Button Mail via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on July 20, 2021

    How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

    How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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    You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

    Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

    Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

    Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

    1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

    According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

    “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

    Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

    Warming up

    If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

    If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

    Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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    1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
    2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
    3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

    Stay hydrated

    Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

    To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

    Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

    Meditate

    Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

    Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

    Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

    Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

    2. Focus on your goal

    One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

    Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

    Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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    Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

    If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

    3. Convert negativity to positivity

    There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

    ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

    It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

    Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

    Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

    Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

    4. Understand your content

    Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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    However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

    “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

    Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

    Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

    One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

    5. Practice makes perfect

    Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

    In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

    Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

    6. Be authentic

    There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

    Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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    Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

    To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

    With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

    Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

    7. Post speech evaluation

    Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

    Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

    We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

    You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

    Improve your next speech

    As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

    Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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    • How did I do?
    • Are there any areas for improvement?
    • Did I sound or look stressed?
    • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
    • Was I saying “um” too often?
    • How was the flow of the speech?

    Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

    If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

    Reference

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