Email is the preferred method of communication for many; it is also the most problematic. Most of us know the stress of 100 emails, many irrelevant. The simplicity, immediacy and potential breadth of email makes use a challenge. Here are some tips to make your email use more effective:
1. Choose the right method of communication
Email is an effective method of communication for sharing information and ensuring shared understanding but is not effective for dialogue or negotiating. If you need a dynamic discussion pick up the phone or meet face to face.
If you can’t answer these questions, don’t send the email. People respond to well thought-out and clear messages.
- Why am I writing this?
- What result do I want?
3. Determine who is your audience
Send the email to who needs it and nobody else. If everyone does not need to hear your reply, don’t reply to all. If an email chain gets out of control, be the person who stops it. Also, do not forward emails for the sake of gossip.
4. Write a great subject line
Subject lines make it easy for the recipients to immediately understand your email. It should hit on the high points or summarize the thrust of the message. Avoid “Hi,” “One more thing…,” or “FYI,” in favor of typing a short summary of the most important points in the message Such as “Meeting Canceled” or “Can your partner join us?”
5. Be brief
To get your message read, fit it onto one screen. Bullet points are better than wrap around paragraphs.
6. Attach an attachment. When sending attachments, attach them before typing the email. This will help in having to send an “oops” email with the attachment the second time.
7. Spell check
Make sure that your spell check is on. This will ensure that all words are spelled correctly. Of course, if the word is spelled correctly, but used improperly, it will not correct it.
8. Manage tone
Read your emails before sending them. Make sure you begin them with “Hello!” and end with “Thank You!” Review your message to ensure the tone is positive. Remember, once a message is sent you cannot take it back.
9. Use lower case. DO NOT TYPE IN ALL CAPS. THIS IS AGGRESSIVE, OBNOXIOUS AND AKIN TO YELLING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The nature of the email, expectations of the parties and your self-discipline will dictate how long it takes to respond. However, as a general rule you should respond to the email by the end of the day. If you need to research the issue or want time to negotiate drop a quick email letting them know when you will get back to them. This acknowledges receipt of the email.
11. Confidential information should stay confidential.
When sharing confidential information be sure to state it in the subject line and perhaps also in the email’s body. State: “Confidential, do not forward”. If you question the person’s ability to hold the information confidentially don’t send it. You cannot control what another person does with your email but you can do your best to prevent important information from being shared inappropriately.
12. End social emails
Use of a company’s email system should be for business purposes only. Don’t be the person who sends joke emails around the office or uses the work email to communicate with friends. Most companies have software that catches certain keywords (including expletives) that are often in personal emails. In addition, why would you want to compromise your privacy? Also, emails sent from work are typically discoverable in lawsuits.
Email is a great tool but not one without challenges. These tips should let you navigate the world of email effectively!