Email communication is probably the most overlooked skill especially when hiring. However, communication integrates all forms of business interactions and fosters efficiency in an organization. It is not just about having a well-crafted resume, a proper demeanor and attitude, or top-notch problem-solving skills, your oral and written communication skills are just as important and cannot be left to chance.
Everyone interprets messages differently according to their outlook on life and beliefs, therefore, the very art of communicating and crafting messages that build trust and confidence should be improved daily. Miscommunication can easily occur when people have different expectations about the messages they send and receive. Understanding communication is important but being a skilled communicator is a whole different ball game. Let’s take a deep dive into email writing skills that will help us accomplish communication efficiency at the workplace.
Know your purpose
Before your fingers hit the keyboard, ask yourself “why?” Just like you would present a project proposal or a business plan before kick-off, the purpose of any email communication should start with you justifying why you are writing a particular email. Whether it’s a personal or professional email, you will need a clear purpose in mind. Depending on your purposes, the messages you send will differ in their formality, intended audience, and desired outcomes.
Once you know your purpose, you need to understand the relationship with your recipient to ensure that email is the best channel of communication for your message. Sometimes a simple phone call or text message is good enough as opposed to lengthy emails. If you are in doubt when email messaging is warranted use this list to decide whether your interaction makes the cut.
- You need to get in touch with a person who is hard to reach
- The information you want to share is not time-sensitive
- You need to send someone a soft file i.e attachments
- You need to distribute information to a large number of people quickly
- You need a written record of the communication
- You want to provide feedback to an employee about their work performance
Also, note that email messaging is not as effective when;
- Information is highly confidential
- You want an immediate response or;
- If the message is long and complicated and can easily be misconstrued.
Having a clear goal and being concise with your email writing will save you time and money because proper communication eliminates confusion and builds trust.
What is your communication style?
To ensure the message you are sending is going to have the desired effect or outcome check your communication style, either in language or structure. Depending on the dynamics of your relationship with the recipient, could be a colleague, boss, family member, or partner, choose whether a formal or informal style of communication is suitable.
Here are a few questions that will help you analyze your audience’s needs with minimal misinterpretation;
- Who is your audience?
- What is the relationship or social situation?
- What impression are you trying to make?
Make good use of the subject line
The same way a headline is the selling point for a newspaper, the subject line to an email is just as crucial. It is one of the most important elements in any email because it is the first thing that the recipient needs to make sure that the email is worth their time or not. A blank subject line will most likely be overlooked or rejected as spam.
The sheer volume of emails sent to and from companies and organizations around the world is a ton. It, therefore, goes without saying that most emails are hardly opened. With that in mind, you may want to include a well thought subject line that will capture your recipient’s attention and summarize the content of the message.
Depending on how effective you need your message to be, you can use dates, time, consistency of emails e.g “weekly project proposal” or even a call to action. Carefully curating a subject line that appeals and serves as a prompt to your recipient is the surest way to successful email communication.
Formatting and Proofreading
Before finally hitting “send” you have to ensure that your email is 100% error-proof by reviewing spelling, grammar, and punctuation. You have a professional image to maintain and your email should reflect the same. An erroneous email is most likely going to take away from the message you are conveying. If you need an extra hand with your proofreading there are tools like Microsoft Word, Grammarly, or Google docs that do come in handy.
On top of proofreading, another very important aspect is ensuring you use a proper email format. For example, make sure the email is concise and every sentence has a purpose to avoid over-communicating. Highlight the most important parts of your email by bolding or italicizing, or even underlining text. Lastly, select the correct font style and size and ensure proper spacing between salutations and paragraphs.
Avoid Common Blunders, Using “Bcc” instead of “Cc”
One of the most unethical email mistakes you can make is sharing information to the wrong address. It is a common error in email communication. There are two features that are more often than not overlooked, these are Bcc and Cc.
Bcc or Blind Carbon Copy is a feature that, unlike CC, allows you to keep someone in the loop about a subject matter without disclosing their email address and that of the other recipients. With that in mind, always consider the privacy needs of your correspondents and the collaborative needs of the subject matter and use the appropriate option.
Not Including Proper Salutations and Sign-offs
Greetings are a starter to any conversation. When drafting emails you should afford your recipient the same courtesy to avoid coming off terse and demanding. Ideally, your greetings should be professional and address the recipient using their first name or position. Avoid using terms like “To whom it may concern” as it might come off as you being disdainful. Instead, make your emails feel more personal by acknowledging your recipient accordingly. Additionally, including a brief pleasantry as your opening line is absolutely okay, just tread lightly to avoid blurring the line of professionalism. Email sign-offs are equally important and should therefore be concise and leaning towards forming an impression and building your brand.
Be Polite and Check Your Tone
Face-to-face communication is hard enough therefore written communication is a whole different story. The biggest challenge in any form of communication is communicating clearly without any misunderstandings. In email communication, you will need to take extra time to ensure you are conveying your message in the best way possible with your intended outcome in mind.
Your choice of words, length of sentences, or even punctuation should ultimately communicate an appropriate tone for your audience. A tip; It’s a good idea to assume recipients will take everything literally. Therefore, reserve an informal language for recipients you are closely familiar with and maintain a polite, professional tone for work-related matters.
Emailing is an important tool for both business and casual communication and choosing to be mindful and intentional with your communication will give you the upper hand whether in productivity or profitability. Therefore, everything considered, it’s important to allocate your email communication a few extra minutes to ensure you know what you are communicating and how you want to communicate.