Writing high quality emails should be as important as writing essays or documents for C-level executives. But we often let sloppiness get in the way of good writing, to the point that reading emails becomes a nuisance. Faced with a staggering number of emails that linger in our inbox, we should become familiar with what prompts addressees to open and act on them. Here we explore five features of well written emails.
Getting to the crux of the matter after exchanging pleasantries briefly is the fastest way to grabbing attention and holding it. Or skip the pleasantries if the communication is constant for the sake of getting to the point immediately. A time saving trick to having your email read and understood on the spot.
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Knowing what the email is about after reading just a couple of words is now-or-never for it to be read. Dwelling on a long introduction when you all you want is to ask a favor or give a command, is probably the most successful way to dissuade someone from reading on. But what really draws attention is the subject line. Here is a trick – use key words that best describe the content of the message or the expected action you want the addressee to take. They should give away what the email is about even before it is clicked on.
Writing fast should not be an excuse for careless choice of words or beating around the bush for half the page. We underestimate the economy of words for many reasons – laziness, incompetence, or ignorance. Yet the speed at which we produce, and digest information should force us to be sparing with words. In lieu of five find one or two that best echo a lengthy expression. It will help to elevate the quality of your email and get the reader to go though it from A to Z.
Nothing makes the writing blurrier than the use of passive voice. Gems such as “the matter will be taken care of” or “the subject needs revision”, sound all too familiar. And so vague. The major problem with the passive voice is that it adds ambiguity. It is a shield for those who shy away from responsibility or don’t understand the subject. With passive voice in place, there is the invisible hand doing its magic but surely not a human. Although we know that the matter will not take of care of itself without someone’s intervention, only the active voice has the power to disclose who this will be.
Typos do happen. Yet the speed of typing with the use of keyboard of crowded mini buttons hindering proper spelling and all other excuses we might come up with, should not be the reason to allow glaring errors to take center stage in the written communication. All the minor imperfections that sneak in add a human touch. You wouldn’t want them to cloud the understanding of the message though. Unless you want the email to end up in the rubbish bin, proofread it several times.
If your emails have these features already- congratulations, you must be satisfied with your response rate. If not, check which of these features are missing. Well written emails are priceless despite a common misconception that they can be fired off without much thought. Use those five features of well written emails as a guiding light to improve next time.