8 Tips for Better Business Emails

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We casually send off hundreds of work-related emails each week. However, communicating by email presents some challenges. There are none of the physical or vocal cues of an in-person or telephone conversation to add feeling and context to the content. The tone of our message is not always accurately communicated to the recipient and we can come off as cold, too casual or bossy.

Here are 8 tips for creating “user-friendly” emails:

1. Put it in context

In a rapid-fire email conversation you may be able to get away with short-cuts. Usually, however, you’ll need to provide a context for what you are communicating. Make sure to remind the recipient of any information necessary for them to fully understand the current email. You don’t want to create misunderstandings, nor do you want to oblige the recipient to search out old emails to know what you are talking about.

2. Hone your message

An email is not the best medium for long, intricate explanations. Better to attach a longer, structured document or explain in a phone conversation.

Before writing an email, determine your main message(s) so you can be as succinct as possible when you write. Give only and all the information necessary to make your point. Especially when giving directions or an assignment, make sure the instructions are clear and complete. Carefully choose your words, then reread and see if you can eliminate anything.

3. Subject Line

Speaking of succinct, what’s the most important thing for them to know about the content of the email? What would get them to open it? That’s your subject line. Keep it as concise as possible.

4. Be Polite and Respectful

Introduce the email with a greeting. “Hello Kayla” or “Dear Kayla” work well. End with an appropriate sign-off such as “Best regards, Kayla” or “Many thanks, Kayla.” Don’t assume the recipient will be happy to receive a couple of short sentences out of context. That can be interpreted as disrespectful and curt.

5. Make it legible

Break up your text into short paragraphs to make it more legible. This will also help separate and clarify the points you are making.

6. Test it out

To understand how the email may be received and interpreted, read it aloud without any feeling — just say the words. Again, the recipient doesn’t hear the intonations you hear in your head when you write it. The tone has to come through in the words alone.

7. Casual vs. Formal

An email, by nature, is a casual type of communication, but it’s not a text message. The tone can be less formal and more conversational than other written correspondences, but as above, make sure it is always polite and respectful. Short and sweet is ideal, but do the read-aloud test to ensure it doesn’t sound bossy or impersonal.

8. Consider who you CC

We all get way more emails that we’d like to, so don’t inundate people with unnecessary emails. If you don’t need to CC everyone, give them a break! When your recipients see that you send only emails truly relevant to them, they won’t think of you as the boy or girl who cried wolf and they will be more likely respond when they see your name in the “from” bar.

Until the next time…


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