Business writing can impact on the whole business cycle; it can win business; it can lose business and it can communicate the framework by which results can be achieved. The evolution of technology has increased the options of written communication in business sphere, email instant messaging and web communication are some of the written communication options brought by technology. Many organisations now rely on email as the sole form of official correspondence. Therefore, understand how to use email communication effectively is important to success in almost every career. In the following line we shall examine some of the best practices of sending an email.
- Send to single or multiple addressees. The same message can be sent to one or many recipients simultaneously. Sending an email message to multiple recipients simply involves keying the email address of each recipient into a distribution list and selecting the distribution list as the recipient.
- Provide a useful subject line. A descriptive subject line assists the receiver’s understanding of the message and serves as a reference point for future reference to it. Additionally, a well-written subject line in an email message will help the receiver sort through an overloaded mailbox and read messages in priority order. When writing a subject line, think of the five W’s—Who, What, When, Where, and Why—to give you some clues for wording. For instance, “Credit Committee Meeting on Monday” is a more meaningful subject line than “important Meeting.”
- Restate the subject in the body of the message. The body of the message should be a complete thought and should not rely on the subject line for elaboration. A good opening sentence might be a repetition of most of the subject line. Even if the reader skipped the subject line, the message would still be clear, logical, and complete.
- Sequence your ideas based on anticipated reader reaction. Endeavour to organise your ideas deductively when a message contains good news or neutral information; and inductively when the message contains bad news or is intended to persuade. Email messages may be organised according to the sequence of ideas, for example, time order, order of importance, or geography. As a general rule, present the information in the order it is likely to be needed. For example, describe the nature and purpose of an upcoming meeting before giving the specifics (date, place, time).
- Make careful use of jargon, technical words, and shortened terms. The use of jargon and technical terms is more common in email messages than in business letters. Such shortcuts save time with audiences who will understand the intent. In practicing empathy, however, consider whether the receiver will likely understand the terms used. And you may want to stick to universally acceptable shortened terms.
- Use graphic highlighting to add emphasis. Enumerated or bulleted lists, tables, graphs, pictures, or other images may be either integrated into the content of the email or attached as supporting material.
- Revise your email before clicking to send. Even the average email requires at least one pass to ensure that the intended message is clear, concise, and error-free. The number of passes increases depending on the number of people receiving the email and the complexity of the issue. Revising for brevity, accuracy, correctness, completeness and conciseness is a primary goal for messages read often on the run and on mobile devices.
Adhering to the important keys mentioned above will set you on the right path to using email effectively. I shall discuss some email etiquette in the part-two of this article.