Have you ever stressed over what to say in an email? Or blabbered too much and over expressed? Or maybe you say too little and there’s not enough information.
Emails are a strange communication line that many people still struggle with. Let’s discuss the proper way to establish a promising emailing reputation and the details that come with it!
There’s some simple basics we should consider when we even begin to start emailing: who is it to, the subject, the greeting, and your signature.
Who are you emailing? Whether this is a business email or an email to an acquaintance, it’s always proper to send the email to the correct address as well as cc anyone who would potentially be involved in the subject. CC is the digital “carbon copy”, referring to back in the day when they would use a piece of carbon underneath their letter as they wrote it, which impressed a copy of their letter for them to keep or give to someone else. This is the same idea, if someone needs a copy or needs to note your actions, cc them, especially superiors or your direct boss. It also is a great way to let others know you’re being efficient, and consistent.
What’s the subject? You have a purpose for emailing otherwise you wouldn’t email at all. Typically this is asking a question, a deliverable that’s due, or an update of some sort. Keep the subject short enough to view on mobile and PC without opening the email, and make it precise. For example, if you are asking a question either use “question: (subject)” or if the question is short, put it in the subject title itself. This is precise and clear, which makes responses quicker.
How do you say hello? It’s always important to greet the receiver of your email, sometimes it’s important to greet the receiver and the cc’d guests but unless it directly affects your cc guest, just greet the direct receiver. An easy rule of thumb is to continually use “Hi, (name)” and then enter down once or twice for general spacing. It’s also appropriate to use “hello”, “(name)”, “morning” or “afternoon”, and somewhat formal words as those. It’s not appropriate (generally) to use “hey”, “what’s up”, or other casual texting type words. There’s always exceptions but having a consistent greeting will make you look and feel more professional.
How to you sign? Lastly for the basics is the email signature, and this one can be complicated because it’s up to you. If you are with a business it would be essential for your marketing team to provide you with an email signature which potentially includes the business logo, your name, title, office and direct phone numbers, your email, the website, and other relevant information they see fit. This is great if you have one of those because you can set up your email signature default to have this every time. You should also consider some exit language as well, “thank you”, “thanks”, “sincerely”, “cheers”, and similar verbiage. If you do not have an email signature provided to you, don’t fret, but create one similar to as described above: name, potential title (maybe you’re a student or looking for a specific title), email, phone number, and any other information you are proud to share. Social links can be great, website links if applicable, and anything else you can share that makes accessing you and your experience better.
This where we will dive into the various do’s and don’t’s of emailing, especially in the work place.
- Be direct
- Avoid fluff
- Don’t take emails personally
- Respond when necessary
- Be consistent
Be direct: say what you mean and nothing more! Emails are extremely direct, and formal, so ensure you have proper grammar and full sentences but only enough to get your point across. Emails are also great because they are a time stamped communication source, making meeting deadlines and tracking backwards more accessible.
The example below demonstrates how to be direct and simply get what you need in a fast, efficient, and brief way. You also should remember that people don’t like to read long drawn out emails, they can function better when they can quickly understand and respond to you even on the go, such as on a mobile phone or tablet.
- Indirect: “I was wondering if you could check on that document that we were working on together the other day when you asked if it was important to add a revision page or not?
- “Direct: “Please advise further on the document attached.”
Avoid fluff: there are always exceptions to writing a longer email, maybe a client asking for more information, a thank you email or summary report, and more! However, what I have learned from emails is that you should try to just give the information necessary, until asked for more. This is a great rule to learn because it starts to save you time and communications with colleagues as well as customers is more clear and concise.
Let’s look at an example of how to “de-fluff” an email if a client had asked about a specific product you or your company may sell. The goal isn’t to be blunt or rude, but to really get to the point without beating around the bush. It’s important to keep your subject’s focus and have them email back with more questions and requests.
- Fluffy: “I am so glad you asked, we have been so excited to share more information with you about this item. This product is going to make your life so much easier by enhancing your experience with your laptop. The product does X, Y, Z, which will support your endeavors with your office tools. I hope this helps, please reach out with more questions.”
- De-fluffed: “This product does X, Y, Z, which will support your endeavors with your office tools. What other questions do you have?”
Don’t take emails personally: I have a hard time with this one because I tend to want to make others feel good and I think many struggle with this in emails. Receiving a business email from a boss or co-worker may come off impolite, when in reality they are simply communicating the smallest amount of information to get the right answer. Here’s an example:
Co-worker: “Please review edits I made on XYZ document and advise.”
This may seem demanding, blunt, impatient, but rest assured, this is just a casual business email. No fluff was needed, no other information was needed, just simply review the document and return with comments. The more you can master separating emotions from work, the better you will be able to perform. Emails are not to be taken personally!
Respond when necessary: simply only respond if there is something to be said! If you do not have an action item, do not need to tell them something, or have no other questions, just leave it or wait until you do. It’s not inappropriate to respond with a quick “thank you” or “I will review”, but it is not necessary. Keeping emails as minimal as possible will help filter out unimportant emails and ensure your inbox is just what you need to see.
Be consistent: keep your language and voice the same, and the best way to do this is to just be yourself. Despite all the minimization of your words, being direct and without fluff, it is still super relevant to be yourself and have your voice. As long as your emails remain formal, you can choose your words as if you were talking to someone. If you would never say “please review and advise”, maybe instead say, “check out the changes and respond with recommendations”, or “I edited the document, please leave any suggestions.” Being consistent is important because emails ARE tricky, and the more you are consistent the more your co-workers will understand your voice and your needs when they receive an email from you. Especially because emails are impersonal, and they are direct, it’s best that people get to know your voice so that they remain impersonal.
Emails are for communication specifically for businesses, and any other type of use is usually because someone does not have access to other social network options or modern communications like texts and call. The best advice for a proper email is to be short, concise, and to the point while still using manners such as “please” and “thank you” when implicated.
Don’t stress over emails anymore! Setup the structure of your email and then use the 5 tips here to remain direct, defluff, take nothing personal, respond when necessary, and stay consistent.
By, Delaney Lawrence