One of the potential problems with email is that sometimes it goes from an efficient and necessary office tool to an inefficient and overused substitute for effective conversations either in person or via the phone.
Following are 5 tips to write better emails:
1) Determine If Email Is the Best Mode of Delivery for the Message
Some things are better said verbally. Does the importance or timeliness of a response require a call instead? If you are on a network with instant message, would a quick instant message resolve your request/question or confirmation? Use email after you have determined that it is the best mode of delivery for your message.
2) Clearly State the Response Requirements and Expectations
Do you need an answer (if yes, by when?). Is this for their information only? Tell them your expectations. Try to avoid copying people that don’t need to be copied on the email. It will most likely get buried in hundreds of emails that they receive daily.
3) Follow a Standard Format
Stick with a basic format. A good rule of thumb is to start with an introduction, the content, a brief explanation or question, the response you are requesting, and your electronic signature with phone number and email address.
4) Be Brief
Use as few words as possible for maximum readability. Very wordy emails are skimmed over and readers don’t get your content. Learn to say it in as few words as possible.
5) Choose Your Words Wisely
Without the human element, emails can often be misread or misconstrued. When you are mad, it comes across in the email. Save those emails as drafts to re-read and send when you are in better spirits. Use words that are respectful and give others the benefit of the doubt. Avoid all capital letters (which infers shouting in email). Write subject lines that clearly state the intent of the email.
Information comes at us in more ways than we can possibly review and ‘think’ of. At one point in my career, I had global product responsibilities for four product lines. I was getting anywhere from 130-150 emails a day that I needed to respond to, and several junk emails on top of that. I am sure that each person that emailed me imagined that I would be able to promptly respond to their emails. For each layer that you go higher up the ladder, the pressure and number of responsibilities grow, as do the number of emails that you receive in a day. Think of email like getting your mail out of your mailbox every day. You sort through them and read the ones that are easy to read or respond to.
It is important to respect others’ time in your emails. Only send the email if you feel that it is VERY important. Minimize the number of words that you use in the email. Always state your intentions and take a minimalist approach.
by Bethany Williams