Writing effective emails is a skill that many professionals need to work on. It seems like something very self explanatory but emails are something we often shoot of in a spare minute without much care or thought. Have you ever wondered why people do not reply to your emails? Or why it takes a number of emails to get the desired response?
It is because of the lack of attention and professionalism we apply to email writing. The irony is less importance we give emails the more frustrating and time consuming they can become because when we don’t get an answer we have to write follow up emails or track the receiver down by other means. Below are some tips to consider when composing your next email.
Who are you emailing? We do not often consider the inbox or work day of the person we are emailing. If we did we might be willing to pay more attention to our emails. Many business people and office workers receive between 30-50 emails a day. If your email looks unprofessional, unimportant or in-actionable, there is a good chance it will end up in the junk mail or left for another less busy day.
Does the receiver know you? If the receiver doesn’t know you personally or professionally it is important to make your identity and purpose very clear. We are all aware of and burdened by spam, most people won’t reply to messages which appear dubious. Be sure to use your email signature, state your job title, company name and company contact details, don’t forget your company URL. If you do not know this person do not burden them with pointless information, pretend you are meeting someone professionally for the first time, make it brief, and make it professional.
Think about your own inbox: When you open your email in the morning which emails do action first? Is it the long rambling emails asking a number of questions and a long story about a bank in Nigeria? No it is the professional, correctly formatted, straight forward emails that can be finished in a number of minutes.
State what you need: People do not want to waste time wondering what they can do to help you do your job. If you need something from them clearly define what it is and the action you require from them. People are often happy to help you if it is not time consuming and you make it easy. For example: I need to know when the report on the new bus terminal will be complete. Call me on this number by 10 am. Broad requests like ‘I need information on education in our city’ are not going to be received well. You need to do the work first and define exactly what you require.
Stick to the facts: This is the business world people do not want to know about your feelings or your personal issues. Tell them what you want and when. Short, simple emails get direct answers.
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