Published on March 7, 2014
Writing Effective E-Mails 1
Importance of Effective Email Communication List down two or three points why it is important to have effective email communication: 1. 2. 3. 2
Importance of Effective Email Communication Any questions about the importance? It is a way of life! 3
Before writing the email Make a plan Think about the purpose of the email Think about the person who will read the email and how you want him or her to respond/react Make an outline or list of the main points and details you want to include in the email Double check any facts, dates, times, or other specific details that will be included in the email 4
The recipient and your relationship Whom are you writing to and what is your relationship with the person? If the person you are writing to is in a higher position than you, your email should use more formal language than if the person is someone in the same level / position as you. If you have never met the person receiving your email before, you should use formal language in the first email to him or her. Once you have sent the first email and received a reply, you can choose to continue using formal language or choose to use less formal language in future emails. 5
What is the situation? Think about the reason you are sending the email and decide if formal or informal language is better. If you are requesting a service or asking for a favor, you should use formal language. If you are making a complaint, you must carefully choose the words to express your dissatisfaction or problem but you must be polite. If you are introducing yourself, you should use formal language but you can use words or phrases that let your personality show through as well. If you are writing a customer relation letter, you should use formal language. 6
What do you want to accomplish? Think about the reason for writing the email and what you want the person who receives the email to do with it. If you want the receiver to do something for you, make it clear. Tell the receiver exactly what action you want done. If the mail is for recipient's information only and no action needs to be taken, clearly mention that. If you want the receiver to respond by a certain date, write the response date. If you are negotiating or rearranging a meeting, write your requirements or available times clearly. 7
Important Elements Subject line Message body Address / salutation Purpose Details / explanation Closure Signature Attachment (optional) 8
Important Elements (contd.) The Opening Tells the reader why you are writing the mail The Focus Provides details about the topic The Action Tells what you want to happen and gives a time frame The Closing Includes thanking the if any reader and mention of future actions, 9
Subject Line Make the subject line clear and concise It is the decision maker about whether to open, forward, file, or trash the message Clearly summarize the intention Do not ever send a mail without a subject line Do not have the subject as “Hi” or “Hello” unless that IS the intention 10
Address / Salutation The first line of your email should be a greeting, followed by an empty line and then your message body. Salutations are tricky, especially if you are crossing cultures. If it is the first time you are emailing somebody, be formal in addressing. For ex. ‘Dear Mr./Ms. Xxx:’ or ‘Dear Sir / Madam:’ Do not start the mail with just ‘Hello’ or ‘Hi’. 11
Message Body - Purpose Make the purpose clear in the first line The objective could be Requesting some info Sending the status updates Asking for clarification Conveying good news Breaking bad news Defending your view point Requesting postponement of deadline Sending meeting / call minutes Sending meeting / call agenda … 12
Message Body - Details Keep the message focused and readable Put all important details at the top of the email body Keep the rest of the email short Use short paragraphs; consider breaking up paragraphs to only a few sentences a piece. Don't bury a key piece of information in a large paragraph Keep sentences short Try to fit the complete message on one screen Provide blank lines between paragraphs Use a bullet list when listing out items 13
Message Body – Details (contd.) Get right to the point Don’t use unnecessary words and phrases that distract from the main idea of the email or may confuse the reader The person reading your email is always pressed for time so you must make it as direct as possible. Make the reason for writing the email clear at the beginning and only add details that are directly related to the topic of the email. 14
Message Body – Details (contd.) Use simple sentences Avoiding difficult or complex sentence structures. This helps you avoid grammatical mistakes. Simple sentences will make the email easier for your reader to understand, especially if the person reading the email is not a native English speaker. 15
Message Body – Details (contd.) Pay attention to word choice Remember that writing is a form of indirect communication. Unlike having a conversation with someone, you do not have a chance to clarify yourself by restating your ideas or to use nonverbal cues to make your meaning clear. You have to make sure your reader understands what you want to say and gets the right “message” the first time. Choose words such that there is no ambiguity in the meaning. 16
Message Body – Details (contd.) Pay attention to word choice Think about how the email might be perceived by the reader. Are there any words or phrases that may make the tone seem angry, flippant, or disrespectful? Avoid trying to make a joke or say something funny in an email. Sometimes what you think is funny might be misunderstood by the reader and create a bad relationship. 17
Message Body - Closure The final sentence Either provide something concrete to reply to or make it clear that a reply is not necessary. Ex.: "Please let me know what appointment times work best for you." or "I look forward to seeing you tomorrow at 1pm in my office." 18
Message Body – Additional Points Do not use – Smilies Ex. :-), :-( etc. Abbreviations Ex. IIRC for "if I recall correctly", BTW for “by the way” etc. Non-standard punctuation and spellings Ex. gimme (give me), tht (that), dificlt (difficult), vil (will), etc. All-caps means shouting Use active instead of passive voice Ex. 'We will take care of your request today', v/s 'Your request will be taken care of today'. 19
Signature Make sure to use ‘With best regards’ or ‘With regards’ or ‘Thank you and regards’ … Do not forget to write your name and contact details, company name etc. 20
Attachments Most common mistakes Mail goes, attachment follows in next mail! Incorrect version is attached! When sending attachments, make it a habit to first attach the file then compose the mail. 21
Proof-reading Poor spelling and grammar show a lack of attention to details and sends wrong message about the quality standards. Read your mails before hitting ‘Send’ button. Set the spell-check option on in your mail client. 22
To:, CC:, and BCC: Usually it is implied that if you have included someone in the "To:" field, then s/he is an intended recipient and should reply if required. If someone is in the "Cc:" field, then the email is merely an FYI for him/her, and s/he is not expected to reply. Make sure you copy the mail to your manager (and recipient's manager) in all official communication. 23
Summary – Do’s Write an informative subject line. Be courteous. Put the key point of your message up front. Be brief. Make it easy for the reader to reply yes or no or give a short answer. End well with an appropriate next step. Check before pressing 'send' – Proof-read. Respond promptly. 24
Summary – Don’ts Don't leave the Subject Line blank. Don't use all capital letters. Don't use emoticons or abbreviations. Don't send without checking for mistakes. Don’t assume that people have time to read your entire message. Don’t think that an e-mail is good for everything. Don’t write an e-mail when you are rushed. 25
THANK YOU 26
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Workshop length Half day (Four hours) Objectives. To learn best practices for email messages relating to format, grammar, tone and style. To learn ...