We all know how to write an e-mail, but it’s important to pay attention to the details and spend time thinking through what you want the e-mail to say in order to come across as professional and eloquent with your words.
Writing e-mails has become the norm when interacting with other professionals in any sort of business setting. We all know how to write an e-mail, but it’s important to pay attention to the details and spend time thinking through the purpose of your communication. With a degree in Broadcast Journalism, I have an eye and appreciation for a well-written e-mail and feel a sense of importance when crafting such communication. While it can be easy to quickly draft an e-mail and click send to share the information timely and efficiently, it’s important to take a moment to consider your words, proofread the e-mail and ensure you’re expressing what you need to say eloquently and concisely. I’ve included steps below on how to write better e-mails to ensure that you come across as professional and intelligent.
Rule #1: Proofread, proofread, proofread. Be sure your spelling and grammar is correct in the e-mail. I recently had a candidate who sent an e-mail to a potential employer, and the hiring manager’s name was misspelled throughout. Ensure you are spelling the individual’s name correctly, and use spellcheck to avoid careless errors. Proper grammar can say a lot about someone, and taking time to write a well-written e-mail will help you stand out among a pile of correspondence. Unfortunately, one little mistake can detract from the entire correspondence, undermine your credibility and cause your note to be quickly moved to trash.
Rule #2: Avoid using “I” in the e-mail. Instead of using “I” in sentences,” use “you” more often to make the e-mail more about the recipient and less about yourself. Let the recipient know what you can do for them and not what they can do for you. For example, I would say, “Let’s get together and talk,” instead of “I would like to get together with you.” I’ve found that keeping the focus on the recipient and not on me is a subtle way to make them feel important and appreciated.
Rule #3: Keep e-mails concise and to the point. According to an article by Fortune, the average email user receives 147 messages per day and deletes 71. One way to basically guarantee your email either gets deleted or flagged for ‘later’ and never looked at again is to ramble on and make the recipient work to get to your point. Write as little as possible while getting the idea across. Keep it short and sweet.
Rule #4: Always be mindful of what you send in written format. We’ve all done it—hit send and then immediately cringed because of an accidental ‘reply all’, spelling error or some other mistake that cannot be taken back. E-mails can be forwarded, passed on to others, saved to refer back to embarrassing faux pas, etc. and you never want to say anything in writing that you wouldn’t say verbally.
When it comes to e-mail communication, less is always more, and proper grammar and spelling are a must. It’s also always a good idea to have a second pair of eyes read the e-mail before you send it. When in doubt about your message or any technical piece of your communication, have a friend or loved one give the e-mail a onceover before you click send, because once it’s sent, it cannot be undone.
Do you have any horror stories when it comes to e-mails or have you received an exceptional e-mail from a colleague or other professional recently? Share your stories with us below. And don’t worry—we won’t be judging your grammar.