A crucial element of professional email etiquette and an essential means of showing courtesy to your reader is keeping your messages concise and to the point. We all receive emails that ramble on, giving us more information than we need but often leaving us unsure of the actual message we need to digest and what the sender wants us to do. Writing concisely will not only save your reader time but will also save you time as you will be less likely to need to chase, clarify or follow up on your original email. Concise emails are read more quickly, actioned appropriately and appreciated by the recipient. Be warned – you risk irritating your reader by sending unnecessarily long and complicated emails.
Below are some simple tips to help you to keep your emails short and to the point.
- Use the active rather than passive voice. The CEO will attend the presentation is better than The meeting will be attended by the CEO.
- Remember that imperatives are ok. Please return this form by Friday close of business is better than I would appreciate if you could return this form to me by….
- Use concrete examples rather than complicated explanations
- Use shorter words where possible, e.g. use rather than utilisation, me rather than myself
- Use one word rather than groups of words, now instead of at this point in time, quickly instead of with the minimum of delay, daily not on a daily basis and so on
- Use too many long sentences – if you run out of breath when reading a sentence out loud it is probably too long!
- Repeat your ideas
- Give unnecessary back story – keep to the point
- Use redundant words, e.g. advance warning, large in size
Being aware of the need for concise writing and editing your emails to remove redundancy are important steps towards more professional email writing. Many organisations run business writing skills courses to enable employees to improve their business email etiquette, saving time for the organisation and individual employees alike through more effective and efficient email communication.
© Communicaid Group Ltd. 2010