On average, U.S. workers spend about 28 percent of their time reading, responding and drafting emails each week. With so much effort and time spent on this single task, it’s important to present yourself in the most professional manner possible. Both what you say and how you’re perceived saying it (because, let’s face it: email lacks tone) have lasting consequences, especially with first impressions. Here are seven simple rules to help you be more effective in your email correspondence.
- Write a clear subject line. This is not the time to be cute or mysterious. With email flooding people’s inboxes all day long, make sure you tell them exactly what they need to know or do. Be as specific as possible (“Details for Red Cross fundraiser,” for example) and if you’re sending an attachment, tell them what it is (“New menu attached”). This also helps the recipient easily find your message if they need to go back to it.
- Get to the point. This goes hand-in-hand with the previous rule. Everyone is busy, so don’t waste time with small talk. Be pleasant, but don’t blather. Tell them what you want, need or are offering as simply and plainly as possible. If you’re emailing a press release, follow the “5 W’s” journalists use when gathering information for articles: who, what, why, when and where.
- DON’T TYPE IN ALL CAPS. This is the equivalent of yelling at someone. Do not ever do this.
- Proofread your email. Always reread your message and make sure it is clear and free of errors. Double-check that you spelled your recipient’s name correctly—and make sure the email is going to the intended recipient. If you said you’re sending an attachment, make sure it’s actually attached.
- Be nice. This sounds obvious, but oftentimes we forget there’s another human on the other end of your communication. Something as simple as “Have a nice evening/weekend/holiday!” or “Nice job on that report” brings out your humanity amidst the busy-ness and can make someone feel appreciated—especially if they’re having a bad day.
- Provide helpful links. If you’re referencing an event, organization or article you’ve read, include links so your recipient can instantly check it out for details. Don’t make them work for it!
- Include your contact information. Be sure your phone number and website are included in your signature. If you work offsite frequently, include your mobile number if appropriate. Make it simple for people to reach you.
Improving your email etiquette isn’t difficult! A series of small steps can go a long way in showing respect for your recipient that will prove reciprocal. iBi