Email is the way we communicate at the office these days, so we tend to simply type one up, click “Send” and move on.
Sending out emails without a thoughtful analysis of what you’re saying, however, can result in a number of issues given how difficult it may be to infer your true meaning. Nuanced undertones like humour and sarcasm are often lost in email.
With the following best practices, you’ll never send a bad email again.
Open and close with a salutation
Seeing as the email “To” and “From” fields make it pretty clear who sent the email and who it is intended for, some people think that salutations are a waste of space and time.
We disagree. Salutations set the mood and add a level of professionalism many people appreciate, especially if you’re emailing someone with whom you’re not particularly close.
Although a typo in an email is rarely a deal breaker, an error-free email keeps your reader focused on the issues at hand … not that little spelling mistake that slipped through.
Front-load the important info
When crafting a solid email, put the key ideas at the top. That way, if someone just glances at it, the most important information will be conveyed. And if you’re requesting a reply, make that known early on as well.
Use sentence case
Avoid using all caps because they don’t add emphasis as much as make it appear like YOU’RE SHOUTING. That’s not the kind of productive communication that drives successful interactions.
One great way to add emphasis is to use a bullet. In emails, which may be read on any number of devices, try putting an asterisk (*) at the beginning of a new line. It works!
It’s a good idea to use language your readers can understand. This is especially true when you’re writing about investing, where jargon may not be as obvious as you think.
Include your signature
People read emails on any number of devices: from desktops to laptops, from smartphones to tablets. They read them at work, when they travel and at home. At times, emails are read with the reader’s full attention; at other times, a glance is all your email may get.
The point? In this chaotic world, you need to get people’s attention in many different ways. So make sure your recipients know how to contact you. And make sure you give them options.
Think twice about “reply all”
You’ve heard the horror stories, so we won’t repeat them here. But it can’t hurt to be reminded, can it?
Don’t forget to say “please” and “thank you”
Just like salutations, we learned to say “please” and “thank you” in kindergarten, but sometimes we slip. To ensure you never miss saying “thank you,” you can include it in your email signature.
This is extremely important for all written communications: sarcasm does not work on paper or on screen. It’s too subtle and dependent on a speaker’s tone of voice.
Humour is a personal trait. If you have a great sense of humour, you can use it in your email correspondence to lighten the tone. Just be cautious: a misunderstood comment in an email can damage relationships.