How to Write More Effective Emails — Part II: Main Content

In my last blog post I shared some tips learned during a recent presentation by Liz Danziger of Worktalk, who spoke about best practices when using email for business communications. Part I focused on how to create more compelling email subject lines. Today, in Part II, I’ll discuss how to create more effective content in the body of your email.

Convey Your Purpose
Be very clear about the reason for your email. Every document has at least one main purpose – to request, persuade or inform:

  • Request – you are asking the recipient to do something. Be sure to clearly state the request and include a deadline if there is one.
  • Persuade – you are attempting to motivate your reader to act or think a certain way (e.g., register for your webinar or purchase your product). You may use logic, reasoning, or in some cases, emotion to present your case. Remember to include the specific action desired.
  • Inform – you are sharing particular facts, but don’t go overboard. Assuming that more information is better may mean your reader has to sift through too many details to discern which facts are relevant. Busy readers lack the time or the patience to do this.

Keep It Brief
Write short sentences where possible and stick to your point. This makes reading faster and content easier to absorb.

Beware the Double Entendre
When choosing the words to convey your ideas, watch for unintended double meanings:

Example: She ate the doughnuts with relish.

Did she delight in the experience of eating tasty treats?  Or did she have some pickle relish along with her doughnuts?

Proofing
Always proofread your email. Make sure your tone comes across as intended. Check for errors of omission, misspellings, incorrect grammar or poor sentence structure.

Other Email Cautions

1)   Forwarding – Remember that your email may get forwarded. You may think only your intended recipient will read the content, but emails frequently get forwarded to others, including managers or executives. Keep that in mind when composing your message.

2)   Wrong Recipient – We all work on multiple projects at once. Always review the recipients you have designated to ensure you have selected the correct individuals. This will save you from the embarrassment of sending to the wrong party.

3)   Attachments – Look closely. Did you remember to include the attachment(s) you mentioned? Are they the right version?

4)   Reply All – Ask yourself if it’s truly necessary to reply to all recipients. You do not want to send extraneous messages to already overloaded inboxes.

Use these tips every time you compose an email. They will help you communicate efficiently, productively and professionally.

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