I recently received to following email from a prospect: “I like your email writing – it’s interesting how many writers write horrible emails!”Look in your inbox and you’ll likely notice a similar trend – email with poor grammar, typos, spelling errors and badly constructed sentences. Your writing style may not matter in a note to your best friend, however it does matter for your business communications.
While it’s true that email is more informal than other communication methods, it’s not okay to be downright sloppy. Have you ever laughed at a typo in an email you received? Do you ever pause and shake your head at errors in an email?
If the answer is yes, then the senders of these messages are doing themselves a disservice. By sending sloppy emails they are distracting you from the heart of their message. Don’t let this happen to you.
Use the following six tips to make your business emails more professional:
Make sure the subject line is accurate and concise.
Most business people receive dozens, if not hundreds of emails each day. Make sure your email gets read by including a subject that tells why your email is important.
For example, if you are working on the budget with a coworker, the subject “budget” may or may not get read right away. However, “Major error in 3rd quarter budget figures” will likely grab his attention and get your email read sooner.
Don’t just hit reply to the previous email. If your subject still says “Major error in 3rd quarter budget figures” but you’re talking about the sales presentation for a major new client, how will your coworker know?
Additionally, many people save emails for future reference. If the subject line doesn’t truly reflect the topic they’ll have trouble finding it in their inbox.
Limit yourself to one topic per email.
Most people skim emails quickly. If you include several topics in your email it is likely that one or more of the topics will be overlooked. It’s better to send separate emails for each topic.
If you must have more than one topic – for example you are requesting a number of pieces of information – number them and place them in list format. This increases the likelihood that all your questions will be answered.
Use bold and italics.
Today most people use email readers that allow the use of graphics. Strategic use of bolding and italics will ensure the reader sees your key points. Don’t over do it however. Use too much bold and nothing stands out.
Keep paragraphs short.
Long paragraphs are hard to read onscreen. Use shorter paragraphs than you would on paper. If you can, limit paragraphs to 3 to 5 sentences.
Edit, edit, edit!
If either the message or the receiver is important, spend the same amount of time writing and editing your email as you would if you were sending a hard copy on company letterhead.
Ensure you don’t prematurely hit send by writing the first draft in Word. Print it out and read it over. Make any corrections and changes on paper, then make the changes in Word. When you are 100% satisfied with the message, copy and paste it into your email.
Follow these simple tips and your business emails will be a little more polished. Then your message, not your errors, will be what stands out.
Andrea J. Stenberg