Oh, email. We all use it — in our jobs and in our personal lives, email is here to stay. Since it’s such a major part of our lives, you’d think that we would all know how to use it properly, right?
In my whopping 8 years of “adulting” (career wise), I’ve discovered that writing good emails is not a skill that is wildly common. In fact, it’s rather rare. That said, being a good email communicator can really set you apart from your colleagues. You’ll be perceived as more intelligent, more competent, and a better leader. What’s more, you’ll be someone people enjoy working with and will have a better reputation at work.
To write great emails, I came up with a simple 8-step system. Now, not every email will perfectly fit in this template… but most will. Give it a shot!
- Determine Whether Your Message Is Email-Appropriate — Make sure that the nature of your message is appropriate for email. Once it’s out there — it’s permanent. You’ll have an eternal digital record of the communication. A quick FYI is often better put in a chat, or an in-person pop-over. A 10,000 word epistle is probably better suited for a scheduled in-person meeting. Nobody likes an inbox cluttered with unnecessary emails… we get enough of them as it is.
- Have A Clear Subject Line — Don’t bait and switch to get them to open your email. Make sure the subject line is concise and relevant to what your email is about… this will help them if they need to search for it later.
- Start With A Greeting — “Dear, ___” or “Hi, ____” is a great place to start. If multiple people are cc’d, it is imperative for everyone to know who the message is directed at (and who is copied for visibility).
- Build Rapport First — Start off positive before diving right into your message. You don’t want to come off as overly blunt or cold. A simple “hope you’re having a great week” or “great running into you the other day” is perfectly fine. Don’t over-do it with anything too long (or anything that makes you appear like a suck-up), but a sentence or two to start off on a good note goes a long way.
- Get Right To The Point — The body of your message should be clear and concise. This is an opportunity to show off the fact that you know how to write. Use spell-check and eliminate unnecessary words. Your recipient should be able to quickly decipher the point of your email. People skim emails, they don’t read every word. So… make your email as scannable as possible. Take advantage of bullet-point lists and bold/underline key elements that are need-to-read.
- State Your Call To Action —Tell them what you’d like them to do with your message. If you’d like them to do something, tell them what you’d like them to do and when you’d like them to do it by. If it’s an FYI that’s email appropriate and no response is necessary, make that clear too.
- End On A High Note — Make sure to end with something positive (especially if you’re delivering negative news). Thank them for their partnership, give them props for great work, or simply say how much you enjoy working with them.
- Sign Off — “Sincerely,” “Best,” etc. Have a professional sign-off. Pro tip — if they don’t have your contact info or it’s your first time communicating with them via email, include your signature so they know your position and other contact info. This is super helpful for context.
So there you have it… 8 steps to be an email-writing boss. Honestly, if you communicate well via email, I guarantee that you will stand out at work… which leads to promotions, more clients, and a better reputation. We all want that…
Would you add anything to this list? Be sure and drop us a note!