A typical CEO of a company gets about 1000 emails a day and a typical corporate user 114 according to McKinsey’s 2012 Social Economy report. How about you? Do you waste hours wading through them or give in to the urge to simply delete the more cumbersome, vague or badly written emails. More to the point, what about your recipients’ response to your emails? How do you make sure your emails are not ignored, skimmed briefly or even deleted?
Here are six practical ways of ensuring your emails get read, however many other emails your reader receives or however rushed they are for time:
1. Focus on the subject line: Leaving the subject line blank is a sure way of risking your email getting side-lined or deleted, particularly if the recipient does not recognise your email address. The subject has to be specific and to the point, but not so short that the purpose of the email is left too vague. For example: “ Weekly staff meeting” is too cryptic to be a clear subject heading, whereas “Weekly staff meeting postponed to next Friday” or “Weekly staff meeting room changed from Room 45 to Room 32” is specific but not over-long.
2. Front load your content: Write the more important information including the purpose of your email at the start. Hook the reader’s attention so you don’t risk them not reading the whole email and missing important information that has been left to the end. Respect your reader’s time – and your own.
3. Follow the KISS principle: Keep it short and simple. Do not use over-long sentences, very big words or jargon. Be sure to suit the language and style to the reader where possible. Keep your style friendly but professional.
4. Keep the information relevant: Every line of your email has to be relevant to the topic and the purpose. Do not try your reader’s patience by stifling them with unnecessary information. Learn to write concisely, cutting out redundancy.
5. Edit, edit, edit: An email cluttered with factual, grammatical and spelling mistakes looks unprofessional and reflects poorly both on you and the organisation you represent. You may also risk your subsequent emails being ignored. Use the spell checker but do not depend on it. A spell checker does just that – check spelling. It cannot exercise judgement on whether the right word is used in the right context. Physically, manually check for accuracy in grammar, spelling, vocabulary and punctuation. If you are unsure of your competence in these areas, refer to self-study books or get proofreading and editing training.
6. Finally, be culturally aware: If you are writing to a global readership, you need to be culturally sensitive to email and general communication etiquette. Areas like humour, gender sensitivity, company hierarchy, and even salutation to mention just a few can vary from culture to culture.
Remember email is electronic mail. Although by its very nature it is slightly more relaxed and conversational than a formal business letter, you are still communicating professionally. It can be hard to use the right tone and language especially when you are in a hurry but effective professional email writing will enable you not only to get your emails read but also create rapport with your clients.
© Communicaid Group Ltd. 2013