What makes bosses, bosses? Why is their business writing more effective than mine? Why do people act on their emails but not mine? Why do my questions get answered with more questions?
It’s all about making sure your emails are not only clear and concise, but people actually read them. How many times have you looked at an email and thought ‘I’ll look at it later’ then haven’t? Here are 10 top tips we at Working Voices recommend you consider when writing your business emails:
1. Think! Why are you writing this email?
What do you want to get out of it? Don’t start tapping the keyboard until you’re sure. Write your intention in one sentence first – it’s very helpful for your own clarification.
2. Who are you writing to?
This will make a difference to the way you word the email, how much information you put in, what they will understand and what they need to know right now?
3. Get straight in with the good stuff.
Imagine they only read the first four lines, will they get the important key points? The action points? The deadline?
4. What will they come back with?
What will they want to know when they receive your email? Put in as much info and as many options as necessary to prevent an email table tennis match. If you want them to do something, make it easy by giving them all the necessary information. They might do it then!
5. Dump ‘I hope you’re well’.
Please! It’s an empty statement that you have to read past to get to the good stuff. If you’re really interested in their general health or wellbeing, find a more sincere or creative route of enquiry.
6. Keep it short and simple.
As Albert Einstein said “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”. Look for words and phrases you can cut out, without taking out the important information. Challenge yourself to cut cut cut!
7. Have a conversation.
Use plain language and write it like you’d say it. It’s easier to write, and easier to read. If you get stuck, think WIRMI – what I really mean is. This way you’ll build a rapport with your reader without having to write hollow sentences like ‘I hope you’re well’.
8. Read it before sending.
Words can say so much about you, especially when they’re misspelt. So can putting the apostrophe in the wrong place, and getting the wrong there, their or they’re; or your and you’re. It’s important! And spellcheck won’t work on those.
9. Emoji or not emoji.
Some companies have banned them, some people hate them, some people love them. Up to you, but they’re not new anymore, just a bit tired. And confusing when they’re passive-aggressive – “GET THIS DONE BY 4PM!!!! :)”
10. Only sign off once.
Not “Many thanks” followed by “If you have any questions let me know” then “Kind regards”, choose one. If they have a question, they’ll get in touch – does it really need saying?
Follow these simple guidelines for good, clear, professional emails which say more about you than you think. Your emails not only represent you, but also the company you work for, so make sure you read them through, they must be perfect before you hit ‘send’. It’s important. If you’d like to learn more our Effective Business Writing Course can help.