by Jacqueline Murphy
Five Tips for Writing Business Emails
Learning how to write an excellent business email is a worthwhile pursuit. Your email correspondence contributes to your enduring professional digital profile and the way your company is perceived. People are unlikely to remember the contents of all the emails you’ve written, but they will remember the tone and structure. Follow this process every time you write a business email:
- Think about your audience and what you must convey.
- Write your email.
- Perform spelling and grammar check.
- Read your message aloud.
- Edit as needed.
Repeat steps 3, 4, and 5 until your email sings.
1. Take your time. Feel free to sprint through one-offs to office mates like, “Are you free for lunch in 15 minutes?” Every other business email deserves your complete concentration. Many of us have cringed after hitting send in haste. No one ever regrets using spell check or proofreading. You want the recipient to focus on the content of your email. Poor spelling and typos are distracting and reflect poorly on your attention to detail.
2. Be brief. Imagine you’re writing a telegram and paying by the word.
3. State your subject. You’ve done this, haven’t you? You go to your email account, scan the list of senders and the accompanying subjects, and decide what to read first. It’s email triage and we all do it. Want to get your email read stat? State your subject clearly and succinctly. Example:
Client meeting notes
The example above is fine, if you have a single client. The following example specifies the client, the content, and makes it easy to perform a search for all related emails:
Sampson Project: Phase 1 Status
If you write the same kinds of emails regularly, consider establishing a subject line convention. For example:
Client Name, Contract for Review
4. Specify attachments. It’s easy for email recipients to overlook attachments unless you mention them in your message. Example:
“Please see three attachments: draft contract, signed agreement, invoice.”
5. Be fatalistic. Imagine that your email is the last communication you will have with the recipient(s). Does it convey your intentions clearly? Did you request a specific action and give a deadline? Could the recipient(s) move forward based solely on the information your email contains?
Tempting though it may be to rush the process, take the time to compose well-written business emails. Strong email communication skills are portable and enhance your company’s — and your own — professional image.