While texting has become a popular method of communication, in the business world email is still used to exchange information and carry out work. To ensure the message receives the proper attention by the reader there are some best practices to follow.
Start with the subject line as it can make a difference when the email is read and acted upon. It should address what is to be resolved making sure it doesn’t read as spam by using phrases like “read this” or “see attached”. If the spam filter doesn’t interpret it wrong, the reader might. Don’t put any confidential information in the subject either. One never knows who is looking on. Many companies use a system of key word such as “Action”, “Information”, “Time Critical” to give an indication how to handle the email. The criteria should be the same for the entire company to keep everyone on the same page.
While writing the body of the message, keep in mind three areas; the subject matter, the audience and their culture and time frame for which a response is required.
First, it can be tempting to “write a book” and cover a wide area of subjects. To be more effective limit the scope of your email to one or two areas to help the receiver find the most important issue and respond quickly. If the email simply contains information (FYI), bullet point each link or thought point for readability.
Then, as you write, think about the audience reading the message and how it will be understood. Will the discussion be clear to them? The dialogue to technical engineers will be somewhat different than to a business process team. In the same way an email sent to a customer will take a different approach than an internal bound employee message. If communicating with international recipients watch the English style used and any words that may not be easily interpreted to the readers primary language.
Finally, clearly state when the response is required. Use terminology such as, “Friday close of business (COB)” or by a specific time. Some email clients can attach reminders to the email sending a notification when the due date comes near.
Remember to always proofread the entire email to ensure the correct message is being sent.It’s a waste of time and frustrating to explain yourself a second time.
Ted Saul is a business coach that assists with Business Plans and Project Management. He holds a master certificate in project management and has earned his MBA from Regis University. Ted can be reached on LinkedIn, TedS787 on Twitter or emailing TedSaulBiz@gmail.com.