Writing Effective Emails

Video Transcript

Keep your emails clear and concise, to avoid confusing the reader.

How many emails do you write each day? Most of us send at least a dozen or more. We use them to communicate with our teams, bosses, customers, suppliers, families, and friends.

But have you ever stopped to look at how you're writing them? Do people respond to your messages, or do they miss key information? Do they even get opened?

Knowing how to write an effective email is a vital skill, and you can transform them by following a few simple rules.

First, look at your subject line. Think of it like a newspaper headline. People would be less likely to read newspapers if their stories didn't have great headlines. And the same is true for your emails.

Your subject line should be specific and concise so the reader knows exactly what your email is about. For instance, imagine you're writing to remind a colleague about a meeting. You could use the following subject line: "November 11, 10 a.m. Meeting Reminder." This gives an overview of the email content at a glance.

When you can fit all the necessary information into the subject line, you can use an EOM, or "End of Message," headline. So, instead of writing an email, just write EOM at the end of your subject line. Then the receiver will know that’s all they need to read.

Another strategy is to make only one point in each email. This helps the receiver to access and save key information easily.

For instance, imagine you've written to a team member about changes she needs to make to a report. Your subject line clearly states that the email is about the revisions. But at the end of it, you include a quick reminder about an important meeting taking place tomorrow.

Unless she adds the meeting to her calendar right away, there's nothing obvious to remind her about it. Instead, write two emails – one with the revisions, and another about the meeting.

Another useful rule is to specify the responses you want. For example, if you need the person to reply to the email, clearly state what you want them to do. And, make sure that all your contact information is included. For example, your name, job title and telephone number.

Overall, keep emails as short and simple as possible – we all know how off-putting long, dense, complicated messages can be!

Knowing how to write effective email is an essential skill. Following a few simple rules can make a big difference in how others read, and respond, to your messages.

You can find out even more about writing effective emails in the article that accompanies this video.

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Comments (10)
  • Over a month ago James wrote
    Hi Everyone

    We’ve given this popular article a review, and the updated version is now at
    http://www.mindtools.com/community/pages/article/EmailCommunication.php

    Discuss the article by replying to this post!

    Thanks

    James
  • Over a month ago James wrote
    Hi everyone

    Just letting your know that we’ve just published a new video for this topic.

    Click here to watch the video:
    http://www.mindtools.com/community/pages/main/videos.php#email

    James
  • Over a month ago Dianna wrote
    Hi sanmicro - it's a great tip isn't it!! Welcome to the forums!!

    My email is downright unruly so small time savers like this help so much.

    And the best part is that when you start using a technique like this, people you send emails to often copy the idea and it spreads through the organization. Have you seen that happening yet?


    Dianna
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