Your shoes are polished, the PowerPoint presentation was impressive, and the client conference call went effortlessly. Now, extend the same degree of preparation, attention to detail, and confidence to your electronic messages.
Unfortunately, most of today’s e-messages do not live up to professional standards.
Hectic and hurried lives often don’t allow for a thorough review of written correspondence before pressing “send.” Yet, you’re creating an impression with every e-mail that goes out. You simply can’t afford to pass along misspellings, vague details, and confusing intentions, no matter how busy or distracted you are.
Give these quick tips a try, and impress others with precise, laser-focused messages:
#1: Subject Lines Must not Read Like Spam…
The title often dictates whether or not your e-message is opened and read.
- Give consideration to the headline, making it important and compelling to recipients, not irrelevant and spam-like.
- Change the subject line if the e-mail has been back-and-forth many times, and the conversation has drifted to other topics.
#2: The Best Messages are Short and Sweet…
Less is more! Be kind to your readers and respect their time by sharing everything they need to know and nothing they don’t.
- Tell who, what, where, when, why, and how.
- Write concise sentences, and use bulleted lists and short paragraphs for reader-friendliness.
#3: Catch Mistakes Before They’re Public…
A sloppy e-mail filled with misspelled words and bad grammar insults the receiver and is a negative reflection on the sender.
- Use the spell-check feature. It will help you avoid embarrassment.
- Read the e-mail again to reveal grammatical errors and, if it’s a particularly important message, have a fresh pair of eyes look it over.
- Be sure intended attachments are actually attached!
#4: Business E-Mail or Business Letter: Both Reflect on You…
An appropriate amount of formality and good communication in a business letter shows respect and consideration for correspondents. E-mail should send the same kind of respectful message.
- Electronic messages are legal documents that can be admissible in court.
- Avoid incriminating or bad-mouthing other people.
- Steer clear of emoticons (those silly little “faces”) and abbreviations such as IMO (“in my opinion”) and BTW (“by the way”). They are too informal and vague for business communications.
- Simple fonts and colors rule! Many e-mail systems will turn fancy or funky styles into gibberish.
#5: Be a Thoughtful Receiver of E-mails…
Having consideration for the sender is as important as being respectful of the receiver.
- Respond within 24-48 hours. If it’s impossible to send a thoughtful response within this timeframe, let the sender know when they can expect a reply.
- Be courteous and acknowledge receipt by shooting off a simple “Thanks” or “Got it” to the sender, if the e-message does not require an answer.
For more answers to your business e-mail questions, check out:
About.com on e-mail etiquette: