Whether you’re sending an email to a prospective customer, communicating with an editor, or sending an idea to your boss, there is a proper way to express yourself.
In many ways, sending someone a business-related email is no different than sending any other piece of business correspondence. Therefore, you should be mindful to communicate your points concisely and clearly. Don’t send emails that require your recipient to scroll down 3 pages just to read your whole message. Think in terms of memo writing.
Here are some additional points to consider when sending emails:
• Subject line–make it count! To ensure your email gets read, add a meaningful title to your subject line. If you and your correspondent have been going back and forth for a few emails, make sure you change your subject line accordingly if the subject has been altered from its original.
• Don’t be “tone deaf.” Emails are very easy to misinterpret, as is any written correspondence. You have no immediate feedback from your recipient as you would if you were talking with that person face to face or over the phone. It’s not unusual for an innocent email to get inferred incorrectly. To help avoid this, after you’ve written your email, read it back to yourself out loud, and make sure there’s nothing that may be interpreted wrongly or perceived as rude or harsh.
Even if you have some concise directions for your recipient, you can soften the blow by using well-placed “pleases” and “thank-yous.” It will go a long way to ensure you don’t come across harshly.
• Increase readability. Make your emails easier to digest and read by incorporating bullets, white space, short paragraphs, or other ways to break up the text. Nothing elicits groaning more than opening an email that is nothing but solid text, all single spaced, with no paragraph breaks!
• Be organized. If you have a lot of material to cover in your email, it’s worth the time to outline and organize your thoughts before you dive into writing. You don’t want your emails to ramble on with no apparent direction, as you run the risk of losing your audience.
• Use the BCC feature. When sending or forwarding group emails, you may want to use the Blind Carbon Copy feature. This will solve two problems. First, your recipients won’t have to scroll through a long list of addresses just to get to the actual message. Second, you won’t be inviting potential scammers to gain access to your recipients’ addresses.
• Pause before sending. How many times have you accidentally sent your email to the wrong person or wish you could hit a “cancel” button immediately after you’ve hit “send”? We’ve all done it. Especially if you’ve just written an emotionally charged email, it’s easy to fire it off before taking a second look at it. This is very dangerous!
Check not only the content itself, but make sure the recipients you are sending the email to are correct. If your recipient is in your address book and your email automatically finishes the person’s name, it’s easy to think it’s going to one person when it’s actually going to someone else if you don’t confirm that the address is correct.
Be sure there’s nothing contained in your email that you wouldn’t want the world to see. Your information may end up places you’ve never dreamed of, and it may come back to haunt you. Companies typically save all their employees’ email messages (even the deleted ones), so you never know who may read your mail or when you may see it again. Be safe and protect yourself.
How about you? Do you have any embarrassing email stories you’d like to share? I’d love to hear about them. You just might give us all some ideas of what not to do!