Keep etiquette in mind and guarantee your messages will be read with these tips.
- Keep it short. The best emails are under 150 words. Get to the point. Announce your intentions up front.
- Tell your reader what you need and when you need it.
- Eliminate ‘crutch’ words. Delete adjectives and adverbs.
- Consider opening with a summation of the issue at hand.
- Include one ‘big idea’ in each email. Focus and your reader will focus, too.
- Avoid open-ended questions. Instead use statements designed to prompt action. Rather than ‘what do you think?’ write instead ‘I think we should proceed. If you don’t, let’s talk.’
- Eliminate ‘me’ and ‘I’ from the discussion. Reducing the use of ‘me’ words forces you to consider how what you’re doing benefits others. It also makes your reader more receptive.
- Occasionally write emails that contain only congratulations or praise – not requests or demands. Offer well-wishes and useful resources.
- If apologies are necessary, don’t say you’re ‘sorry,’ an overused phrase that can seem flippant. Write ‘I apologize’ instead and outline your plan for avoiding the mistake in the future.
- Reply quickly. When something is important, immediacy is critical.
- When delivering criticism, be specific and respectful. Offer concrete suggestions and alternatives. Keep your tone positive.
- Re-read each email before sending. Consider reading everything twice. That’s easier, of course, if your emails are succinct.
- Add the address last. Make sure you double-check the recipients on any email you send.
When you write better emails, you nudge projects forward, eliminate time-wasting misunderstandings, and get things accomplished efficiently. Well-written emails also inspire others to communicate more clearly and effectively. Perhaps most important, writing better emails can give you a disproportional advantage when trying to prompt action, motivate a team, sell a product or connect with colleagues. Set yourself apart. Write better emails and see how effective your best communication can be.