Six Tips for Writing Effective Business Emails

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Ah, business emails. What would we do without them?

Well, we’d have a lot more time on our hands, right?

The primary reason most people loathe their inbox at work is because their colleagues don’t know how to write effective emails.

Emails aren’t necessarily designed for a lot of text and detailed information. They work better as a means of quick communication. When emails aren't quick, they have a tendency to get buried and unanswered.

So if your emails aren’t getting the attention you want, here are a few ideas to consider:

1. Get to the point.

If you’re rambling in your head, it shows up in your emails. Before you strike the first key, decide what your main point is and say it.

2.  Limit your emails to five sentences.

Yes, I said five.

Because five sentences is all you need if you’re focused on getting to the point (see tip 1).

This tip has saved me a significant amount of time over the years. It forces me to define the purpose of the email so I can be focused and succinct. And when my emails are easy to read, I generally get quicker responses.

Here’s an example of an effective, five-sentence email:

  1. My call with George went well.
  2. He liked Proposal B, but needs more details on timelines.
  3. Is it possible to have a draft of projected timelines and milestones by 5 pm Thursday?
  4. Please let me know.
  5. Thanks for your help.

This email gave a status update, asked a question, provided a deadline and even included a thank you.

While this is a basic email, what do you do when you have more to share?

3.  Use an attachment for detailed information.

Word was designed for longer documents and details, and it’s a lot easier on the eyes when reading.

PowerPoint is another way to share information that’s easy to read, as long as you keep it concise.

4.  Use white space.

In general, white space is your friend but it’s especially important when writing emails.

If you’re writing a five-sentence email, put a line space between each sentence to encourage your reader to respond to you even faster.

5.  Use an accurate subject line.

Being specific in the subject line lets recipients know what you’re sending before they open the email.

I receive a lot of emails with inaccurate subject lines because the sender just took a recent email and started writing.

I’m not quite sure why people do this. Is it that hard to update a subject line?

If you’re starting a new topic, start a new email with an accurate subject line so you don’t confuse your reader.

Even if you need to use a previous string of emails to include a history or reference point, be sure to update the subject line.

6.  Be careful when clicking Reply All.

With this tip, I'm not referring to those situations where email is used to keep recipients in the loop on a big project. That's when you actually use Reply All.

What I’m referring to is people who have a pattern of hitting “Reply All” without thinking. This is a huge no-no in the business world, as you probably already know. But what you may not know is that when you do this, you’re sending specific messages.

First, you’re showing a lack of attention to your job. It's pretty clear that you're not giving your email 100 percent of your concentration.

Second, you’re showing a lack of consideration for your colleagues. You’re adding to their workload by being thoughtless. And when you do this,  you're not their favorite person (even if they’re nice to your face). 

So when it comes to Reply All, think before you click.

Were these tips helpful? Did they resonate with you? Are you going to give them a try? Connect with me on my Facebook page and let me know. 

Be #True, and have a Refreshing and Productive Day!

//  F O L L O W

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