It’s well known that 90 percent of communication is non-verbal, meaning that we rely on facial expression, tone of voice and other tics which help us fully understand what is going on in any given conversation.
These vital clues are absent when we communicate via email and as a result it’s very easy to misunderstand what’s being said or to be misunderstood. Most business experts will advise against using email for important conversations, but if handled correctly, emails can save a lot of time, and therein lies their sizable advantage.
We all need more time and because emails offer us that, it’s beneficial to learn how to write them in an effective manner that avoids any potential confusion.
Be Aware of the Sender and the Receiver
Because we send emails via a screen it’s easy to forget about the person on the receiving end. Likewise, recipients don’t always think about the sender. When sending an email we have to take into consideration how much mail the receiver gets; if they regularly get asked for favors; if they are a public figure or how busy they’re likely to be.
Meanwhile the sender may typically spend a lot of time crafting the perfect mail; may believe that their request is original or may have a desire to tell every detail of their situation. The point here is that these two parties have very different perspectives and those need to be taken into consideration if we hope to engage in fruitful exchanges via email.
Know What You Want
Most people will read an email wanting to know one thing: what’s the point? What does the sender want? If possible, let the recipient know the point of the email in the subject line box, as this will save a lot of time, which the receiver will appreciate. By sticking to the question, ‘what’s the point,’ it also lessens the chance of rambling.
Bear in mind that there are typically four types of emails:
1. Self-Fulfilling Email – The email itself is the point. You want to tell the receiver something, either a compliment or information. No reply is necessary.
2. Inquiries – You need something from the receiver in the form of a reply. For example, advice, or questions answered. The reply is your desired outcome.
3. Open-Ended Dialog – to keep communication lines open, for the purpose of some future result or benefit.
4. Action Emails – The goal is not the reply, but some action on the part of the receiver. For example, a sales pitch, or asking for a website link exchange.
For example if writing an inquiry email, the subject line might be: Need your expert advice on xx topic. Can you answer the enclosed questions please?
Then the body of the email would include a salutation, a short introductory paragraph explaining why the information is needed and finally, a list of questions.
Stick to the Facts
Remember, the beauty of emailing is that it allows us to save time, so if it’s taking a long time to write your emails and if it’s taking a lot of time for recipients to read them, something is wrong.
An email is not the place to give the background story on a given request. Stick to the facts and don’t elaborate. If the recipient wants more information, he’ll ask for it. Even though brevity is essential to successful emails, there is no need to be rude. Think of emails as a precursor to social media, and should be personal and personable. Keep the tone professional but also friendly.
Starting an email.
Hi Ruby / Hey Ruby
Hope all is well with you / How are you? / Long time, no speak! / How are you doing?
I just wanted to touch base on…..
I want you to put me in the picture for the Gerrschwin project.
Please confirm that you will be meeting the scheduled deadlines
Please send me the information on …
Can you please forward me on …
Can you please respond to …
I need you to send me a brief report / status update
Requesting a rapid response.
Looking forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
Please let me know asap.
We can’t move forward without confirmation on your side.
Can you get back to me on this asap so we can move forward on this?