How many times have you fired off an e-mail without much thought? In most cases, that’s not a problem – like scheduling a meeting or sending information to move a project along. But there are times when your tone or content is important, and Diane Autey has some great tips on how to handle these situations If you’re not careful, you could offend or anger someone . . . or worse – lose business. Here are some tips for writing an effective e-mail when the message really counts:
PURPOSE – Make sure that e-mail is acceptable for this communication. If it’s sensitive information or bad news, maybe face-to-face or a phone call is better. Think about it from the recipient’s point of view.
LENGTH – Not longer than a standard computer screen, so the user doesn’t have to scroll. People do not like reading long e-mails. If what you need to communicate is long or complicated, consider another method, like a memo.
COMPOSITION – Engage the reader in the opening sentence. Highlight the key points quickly, write concisely, and explain the purpose, background and next steps. Avoid the use of all-caps in the body copy. It’s difficult to read.
MANNERS – Use “please” and “thank you.” You accomplish more with sugar than with vinegar, according to the adage. Be polite and courteous.
ACCURACY – Proof your e-mail. This is a good practice for all e-mails, but especially for the more important or critical ones. Typos and sloppiness damage your credibility as a businessperson.
Another general rule is to use “Reply to all” and “Urgent” sparingly. Use them only when all recipients really want and/or need the information, the message is time-sensitive, or there may be ramifications if it is not read (in which case face-to-face is probably better).
Diane Autey produces professional marketing and business writing for a variety of companies and industries. She is an exceptional business storyteller, adept at writing compelling copy that’s enjoyable to read, while driving customers to act. For more information, visit her website at: http://www.projectsdonewrite.com.