“Your e-mail is as much a part of your professional image as the clothes you wear, the postal letters you write (assuming you still do), the greeting on your voice mail and the handshake you offer.”
– Lydia Ramsey, Business etiquette expert
There is absolutely no substitute for emails, it is the perfect business tool for communication – efficient, cheap and quick. More often than not, it is the first form of communication that takes place between you and your clients/media. Even before you meet them in person, they already have an opinion of you, courtesy your email.
It is therefore crucial to draft an email that appears professional, does not make you seem sloppy or desperate and gets your, synonymously your client’s message across. If you manage to piss off the recipient with your email, there is no room for further exchange. You must hit the nail on the head with your first email. And here’s how –
- Use small sentences and simple language – Long sentences and ornate language convolute the email, making it difficult for the reader to understand your message. Keep your sentences to a maximum of 15-20 words.
- Use a meaningful subject – Try to use a subject that is meaningful to the recipient as well as yourself. It’ll also help in sorting out from the inbox later.
- Be precise – Emails that get to the point are much more effective than those that bear history and read like a report. Plus no one has time to read through long mails and seek useful information.
- Use active instead of passive – Try to use the active voice of a verb wherever possible. For instance, ‘We will process your order today’, sounds better than ‘Your order will be processed today’.
- Use proper structure & layout – Use short paragraphs and blank lines between each paragraph, otherwise your mail will read like a novel. Check that the font and point size is consistent throughout the text.
- Organize – The content of your mail should be logically organized to facilitate the message. No one likes to re-read through the mail to make sense of it.
- Use facts instead of history – Draw in credible facts to support your message. Numbers always cast a much stronger impact than history. Anyone is happy to see that you’ve already done their research for them.
- Proofread before sending – You must proofread your content carefully for errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar. Small errors reflect on your professionalism and corporation’s image.
Badly drafted emails reflect on yours and your company’s image, so here’s what not to do.
- Do not request delivery and read receipts – This will almost annoy your recipient before he or she has even reads your message. And worse still, it makes you look desperate.
- Do not write in CAPITALS – THERE’S NO NEED TO SHOUT! You can make your point by using bold or underline font for important information and placing it early in the mail.
- Don’t leave out the message thread – When you reply to an email, you must include the original mail in your reply, or you will end up spamming the recipient’s inbox. In other words click ‘Reply’, instead of ‘New Mail’.
- No abbreviations and emoticons – Do not assume the abbreviation to be obvious, regardless of how common it is. It is alright to be friendly and polite, but emoticons imply unprofessionalism.
- Do not use email to discuss confidential information – It can land you in trouble. Internet has many loopholes and virus, and if you don’t want to face liability, use telephone or meet in person to exchange confidential or controversial information.
Written by Chaahat Madaan for Image Management