Email writing is an essential skill in the professional world. After all, emails help us establish relationships with our colleagues, clients and potential business leads.
Some quick, snappy email stats: According to Perkbox, 73% of professionals surveyed said that email is their preferred method of communication at work, and most of them spend between 1 and 2 hours a day checking emails.
So why is it that for many of us, email writing comes more from intuition and experience rather than from a specific curriculum or class? Many of us refine our email writing through trials and tribulations made on the job, observing what works and doesn’t work to make our emails better and better.
But what if we told you that you can skip right over that trial period and get your email writing to the next professional level?
With these writing tips from BG, you’ll be impressing your clients and colleagues with your professional emails in no time. You won’t find any “Per my last email” here!
At the end of the day, many people are busy at work and only have a few minutes to quickly browse through a new email. So, brevity is key! Try to make your emails easily “skimmable,” with quick bite-sized segments.
To do this, structure your text into short-sentence paragraphs, ideally around 2-3 sentences each. If you have an email that is more than five paragraphs and is teetering towards the long side, consider scheduling a meeting or a call instead.
An easy way to make your emails more readable? Highlighting and breaking up your text to help certain segments stand out, such as a deadline, priority task or an important note. BOOM! The text instantly jumps from the screen.
Using bold text, italics and bullet points can also make email content more digestible. Rather than browsing through piles and piles of text, your readers get a visual break and can more easily read through your email without stumbling or feeling overwhelmed.
When we’re at work, we obviously want to keep it professional. After all, our emails are a direct reflection of ourselves at work and can contribute to our professional relationships.
That’s why it’s important for us to keep our overall tone informative but also accommodating and friendly. If we come across as too brash, we risk offending someone or getting our intent completely misunderstood.
Before you hit send, reread your email, and make sure your sentences can’t be misinterpreted or read as aggressive. If you have any sentences that seem abrupt or vague, change them up to make them read as more friendly and conversational. A simple tweak can go a long way!
Here’s an example: “This was due today. Did you have an issue with getting it done?” vs. “Hello! Just a friendly reminder that the assignment is due today. If you need any help or have any questions, let me know. Look forward to hearing from you!”
With some extra words and delicate phrasing, the second email comes across as much more empathetic and willing to help.
Of course, different work environments may use different tones based on specific client/colleague relationships, so adjust as you see fit to match what’s appropriate for your job and the subject at hand.
Every email must have a purpose. A good call-to-action at the end of a message helps tie everything together and lets recipients know of any key insights or tasks they may need to take away from the email.
Clarity is key. Do you need someone to review a document? Be sure to mention that. Is there a deadline looming that needs to be prioritized? Include it as a reminder. Is there someone that people should reach out to if they have any questions? Drop that person’s name in (or remind people they can go to YOU with questions)!
Ultimately, you want to end your email with a solid conclusion, but also keep the conversation open to follow-ups and be willing to answer any questions or clarify certain instructions.
This last tip is basic, yet essential. Read through your full email to make sure all sentences structurally make sense and follow good grammar and punctuation. You can also use a grammar-checking service like Grammarly to pick up on any sneaky gaffes you may have missed. If you feel like a section appears wordy or doesn’t contribute much to the overall email, delete or rewrite it.
Most importantly, make sure all relevant documents are attached! Nothing is worse than missing an attachment and having to send an embarrassing follow-up email apologizing for the mishap. That, and forgetting to include a compelling subject line! For those, try to keep them brief but effectively sum up what the email is about.
Here is an example: Subject: Urgent: Content Calendar Ready for Review
Writing emails requires work — even seasoned professionals need to keep proofreading their emails to ensure accuracy! If you ever truly feel stumped, ask a colleague to look over your email. It never hurts to get another pair of eyes!
For further email writing inspiration, we recommend the book Digital Body Language: How to Build Trust and Connection, No Matter the Distance, by Erica Dhawan, an alum of MIT Sloan (one of BG’s higher education clients!).
We also recommend Grammarly’s article, “7 Boring Email Cliches, and How to Avoid Them.”
Need help with copywriting? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.