This is a guest blog by Pamela A. Scott
I’m sure it would because being able to write really good emails would make you stand out from the crowd. Most people write emails that are average or below average.
How do you know if your emails are above average, or even really good? Here’s my formula for writing emails that set you apart from the others and endear you to your boss.
Your reader can:
- Read and understand your email the first time through
- Find your main point quickly
- See whether or not he/she needs to take action now, then do so
- Find the details needed to understand your message and act accordingly
- Go on about his/her day without having to ask clarifying questions via another email or phone call
Top 10 Tips for Writing Great Emails
Start writing emails that demonstrate your professionalism by using these top 10 tips:
1. Figure out the main point of your email. What is the purpose of your email? Are you trying to get someone to do something? Or are you conveying information to someone who needs it?
2. Decide who absolutely, positively needs to get this email. Is it everyone on your team or just certain members? Writers get lazy and carbon copy everyone on a team because they want to be sure everyone knows what’s going on.
Do not be that person. Do you appreciate your inbox being littered with unneeded messages? Of course not. If you want to write really good emails, THINK about who to send a message to.
3. Write a short, compelling headline that draws your reader in. For example, “Meeting canceled” is not a good headline. I can’t tell which meeting is canceled — can you? “Monday 9 a.m. meeting rescheduled” tells me that I can now use the 9 a.m. hour to do something productive. Yay!
4. Write your greeting — and yes, you should include a greeting. “Hello,” “hi,” “good morning, team members” can each work as a greeting. If you are writing to a friend, it’s fine to say “Hey there.” If your reader is someone you don’t know well, use a more official greeting such as “Hello, Mr. Travers.”
5. Open your email by telling your reader why you are writing. “The purpose of this email is to brief you on . . ” or “I’m writing this email to update you on the status of . . .”
Keep Reading So You Don’t Miss These Next 5 Tips
6. Don’t include extraneous info in your email. Stick to the purpose you selected in step 1. If you are conveying info and have tons of background information or related data, send that as an attachment. Do not include it in the body of your email.
7. Tell your reader that you’ve attached background or related details. Do not expect him/her to figure that out. Make your reader’s job easy.
8. Use bullet points to keep your critical points brief and concise. I have written thousands of words on how to be concise. I’m not going to dive into that pool here. Think: “time is money.” If you waste your reader’s time, you’re costing them and your company money.
9. Highlight action items, who needs to take the actions, relevant deadlines, and contact information. Do not bury this information in the middle of your fourth paragraph—no one will find it. For example:
DAVE & DARIUS: Need your report on . . by 5 p.m. Friday the 15th. Please send it to (list names). If you have problems, contact Sheila at (phone number) or [email protected]…
10. End with a closing. I don’t care if everyone knows you, it’s polite to end with “good day,” “sincerely,” “thank you” or something like that and sign your name.
Make sure your email messages show you to be the professional you believe you are.
About the Author Pamela A. Scott
Pam is an executive coach to CEOs and business owners, focusing on communication, managing people, leadership, and emotional intelligence. Her tagline says it best: “Numbers may drive the business, but people drive the numbers.”®
Pam started her company more than 20 years ago. For much of that time, Pam has coached engineers and architects to be leaders in their companies.
She brings more than 25 years of communications expertise and leadership experience as
- A national award-winning newspaper editor
- A communications specialist writing for Congress
- A successful entrepreneur specializing in coaching clients to reach their full potential
Clients have ranged from solo practitioners to companies such as Turner Broadcasting System, Coca Cola, Federal Reserve Bank, and engineering firms such as Walter P. Moore. For 15 years, Pam was a member of Vistage, an international organization of CEOs.
Pam has a master’s in education and human development from George Washington University and a bachelor’s in communication from Bethany College. In Toastmasters, she has achieved Advanced Communicator Bronze and Advanced Leadership Bronze levels.
We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you might share about how to write emails that get the job done.
Please leave your comments, feedback or questions in the section below.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success