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6 Tips for Writing Emails That Will Get Opened

6 Tips for Writing Emails That Will Get Opened


    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.

    (Photo credit: Button Mail via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on January 15, 2021

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

    Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

    Posture

    First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

    • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
    • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
    • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
    • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

    All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

    Facial Expressions

    Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

    • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
    • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
    • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

    If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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    1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

    A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

    The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

    This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

    2. Relax Your Face

    New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

    The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

    To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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    3. Improve Your Eye Contact

    Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

    The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

    To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

    3. Smile More

    There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

    Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

    4. Hand Gestures

    Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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    It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

    5. Enhance Your Handshake

    In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

    “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

    It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

    6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

    As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

    Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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    Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

    Final Takeaways

    Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

    If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

    More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

    Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

    Reference

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