I write about emails frequently because business is mostly conducted via email. Telephone calls, meetings, and text messaging are part of the way we communicate, but the bulk of what we say and what we ask happens via our inboxes.
- Provide information
- Answer queries
- Ask for information
- Build relationships
- Deliver reports
- Submit proposals
- Make offers
Are you sure that the recipient wants or needs to get your correspondence? Is he or she the correct person to contact? If you are certain, make sure that you spell their name correctly.
Do not use archaic overly formal language. Use a respectful, cordial greeting and salutation. Make sure your tone is correct for the subject and recipient.Examples:Dear DanKind regards
Do not leave this empty. It shows an immaturity in business and spam filters are likely to send it to junk mail. Use the subject line to indicate clearly what you want from the email. Are you advertising an event, sending an update, asking a question, setting a deadline, or requesting information? Whatever it is, make it clear. [Read The 12 Worst Mistakes People Make In Email Subject Lines]Example: Short Story Course – Take advantage of our discount
Write the way you would speak. Use a conversational tone and allow your personality to come through. People will see through your ‘business persona’ and your affectation will alienate them. [Read But How Did The Email Make You Feel?] Do not use big words and complex, convoluted sentence structures.Example:Do not say: We require your consumer-related data for the course at this point in time.Do say: We need your registration information now.
Start your email with the reason for writing. Do not build up to it. You are not writing a suspense novel. We don’t have time to wade through your history, your resume and anything else you include. We need to decide if the email is of interest to us.Example: Writers Write is offering a discount on the course you’re interested in attending.
Before we write the email we should be clear about what we want to achieve. Be specific. Be confident without being arrogant.Example: Would you like to take advantage of our offer?
Be brief. Be courteous. Your email should not be longer than 250 words. Keep it as short as possible without sacrificing important information. One way to get this right is by using the five Ws and the one H to make sure you cover the facts.Example:Where: Provide the venueWhen: Give the date of the courseHow much: Provide details of the discountWhy: Tell the reader why it’s a great dealWho: Provide (brief) details of who will be facilitatingWhat: Include what you will we cover on the course
We need to be clear about when we need the response.Example: This offer is valid until 23 December 2016. If you want to take advantage, please book before that date.
Show readers why this is of interest to them. Why should they spend time on our request? Know your audience. Don’t waste time with frivolous requests.Example: We are making this offer because you asked us to alert you about new dates.
Once we’ve sent the email, detailed our reason for sending it, and given a deadline, we have done what we can. If you require an urgent response, send one reminder email to make sure the recipient is aware of the importance. After that, leave them alone.
If you want to improve your business writing, join us for The Plain Language Programme.
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