Email is a widely used tool for business communication but is not as straightforward as it seems.
Although it can be a helpful and effective way to communicate with colleagues and clients, it can also be unhelpful, confusing and annoying if used wrongly.
Whether professional or personal, the ability to compose and send effective email is super-important.
Below are 10 tips for effective email communication:
1. Be clear and concise.
Know that an average person has lots of emails he has to go through and wouldn’t want to spend a huge chunk of time trying to decode your own message.
Use minimum amount of sentences and state what you want right away. Keep it as short as possible. If you have a large amount of text to send, consider attaching a document.
2. Be prompt to respond to important email.
Email correspondence needs to be as fast as possible. By responding immediately to an email, it shows you care about the message and the sender.
Even if you are not able to attend to it right away, telling the person you received it and when you will attend to it shows professionalism and attentiveness. E.g. “Email Acknowledged.”
Don’t just leave an important email lying around without replying or at least acknowledging receipt.
3. Use appropriate subject lines.
A good subject line catches the attention of the reader and also summarizes the email content.
Make good use of the subject line. Before opening an email, the reader should know what it contains.
When an email requires special attention, including words like “response needed” or “urgent” are helpful in knowing what is expected.
4. Your font matters.
Don’t make bold, underline or capitalize entire words or phrases. Not only does it make a message more difficult to read, it can also come across as unprofessional and disturbing.
Be careful when you write emails so that the reader doesn’t perceive you as rude. Reduce your use of bold (sometimes perceived as anger!) and CAPITALIZED fonts (sometimes perceived as being LOUD).
Where you need to lay emphasis, you might consider using italics, quotes, asterisks or even noting them as bullet points. It is generally safer to use moderately sized fonts.
5. Keep emails official.
When dealing with official/professional receivers, be very careful about forwarding jokes and other non-work-related materials. Most people don’t appreciate this type of email and may get too much already.
6. Include one topic per email.
This is very important, even when you have numerous things to pass across. Avoid discussing so many topics in one mail unless they are directly related.
Create separate emails for each topic. This makes your message clearer, concise and actionable.
Including one topic per email also helps your subject line reflect your message.
7. Decide carefully who should be CCed in an email.
When you CC (Carbon Copy) people on an email, the CC list is visible to all other recipients. Therefore, it should not be abused or overused.
CC should only be used when the recipients are directly involved in the email subject and need to be aware of the current conversation.
8. Avoid using emails for conflict resolution.
In the course of interacting with email, there might be issues that need to be resolved off the email.
Although an automatic reaction, especially if someone has misunderstood something in your email, may be to send a quick email back. This is however not advisable. If there’s ever a conflict while using email, avoid using email to settle it.
Email isn’t the best way of resolving conflicts because it doesn’t convey the tone or emotions one would naturally want to pass across. Simply pick up the phone to resolve a conflict.
9. Include an email signature
The importance of a consistent email signature cannot be overemphasized. Make it easy for your recipients to contact you whenever the need arises.
A corporate email signature should typically include your:
- Company address
- Website address
- Full name
- Phone number
- Job title
It is helpful to have all your contact information clearly and easily accessible, as it is the equivalent of your business card. Take your email signature seriously.
10. Proofread, proofread, and proofread.
Finally, before you hit send, sit back, relax and read through the content of your email again. Check through carefully to ensure that there are no grammatical/typographical errors or inappropriate sentences.
Also, avoid shortcuts and abbr. in biz. emails. You see, it makes one come off as unprofessional and unserious. Stick to formal language.