Writing effective emails

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As a professional you write emails all the time. They are the most commonly written documents . But they exist halfway between a conversation and a formal letter. So what’s good practice?

Why am I writing this?

Before you start typing, ask yourself ‘Why am I emailing this person?’ What result do you want? Can you handle it better by phone or by getting up and having a conversation?’

The subject line is the most important line you’ll write

Sitting in an inbox, surrounded by hundreds of other messages, your email must scream: ‘Choose me, read me!’ To do this, you must write a subject line that grabs attention. Don’t leave it blank and don’t write a vague heading. Be accurate, brief and clear.

Main points first

Look at how you’ve set out your email. Don’t bury the main idea. The most important content goes in the first one or two paragraphs.

In the body, don’t write too much

Don’t write too much. Keep your email at three to four paragraphs. If you need to send reams of content, attach a document.

Maintain standards

Your email is a professional document: make sure that it’s punctuated correctly; no grammatical or spelling mistakes; no smiley faces.

Close the issue

Bad emails go endlessly back and forth. In your email, you should close the issue by including all relevant information—no omissions. Your reader shouldn’t need to ask you to clarify content or ask for more information.

Tone is important

In an email, you’re simultaneously conveying a message and managing a relationship and you have only words to convince and persuade. No CAPITALS; say please; say thank you; choose the right words to soften your reader.

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