Have you ever written an important email, sent it to the recipient and then immediately after went into the sent-outbox to read the email from the “recipients’ point of view”?
Writing a really good email is an art form. To have your thoughts and opinions distributed in a clear and effective way, without, for that matter, sounding harsh or unpleasant. To be able to be concise without missing something important and to be able to be factual but still make the message sound personal.
So how do to write an email like a real professional?
I sent it to the wrong person, what do I do now?
To become an email professional, you must first start with the basics. And one of the most basic things is to make sure the right person gets the message.
“I sent an email to the wrong recipient, what do I do now?” is a fairly common search on Google. We are probably many who have happened to be a little too fast when we type the first letters in someone’s e-mail address and then clicked Enter.
In 2012, an investor at a large company happened to send an email that was intended to fire one person, to 1300 people! You can imagine the chaos that followed that email.
With this little anecdote, you probably understand where I’m trying to get. Check that the right person receives the email. The same applies before you click on “Reply to all”, think about whether your answer is really intended for everyone in the email conversation.
Be clear and get to the point
Being clear yet concise can be easier said than done. But there are tricks that can help you.
An example of this is if you send an e-mail to someone you do not know, then it can be tempting to spend a paragraph or two on introducing yourself. Avoid it! No one wants to read a short autobiography in an email. Keep it short, maximum two to three sentences. If it is longer than that, there is a risk that the recipient will lose interest immediately.
Another thing that is good to keep in mind is to get to the point as early as possible. Instead of having a long intro where the point is the crescendo in the end, it is much better to start with the point right away.
For longer letters – divide into paragraphs
Short emails are wonderful, but sometimes it is simply not possible to keep it short. Then readability is something to think about. Divide the text into clear paragraphs and feel free to add headings that explain the paragraph. This way, the reader can easily navigate through the email and it feels less overwhelming to start reading.
There is a much greater chance that your recipients will read the entire email and absorb the information if you put a little extra work into paragraph breaks and headings. And do not forget that if something is extra important, it should come first, not last.
Read about important emails
Sometimes we send out those extremely important emails, those that are to be received by managers, a large group of people or an important customer. When writing these emails, it can be good to put them as a draft, let them rest for an hour, and then re-read them before sending them.
If you read about an email immediately after you have written, there is a good chance that you read what you think you have written, because you remember your own text. If you leave the text untouched for a while, you get more distance to what you have written and then you will find easier errors and ambiguities.
Bring your personality
Last but certainly not least, it is important not to forget to include your personality in what you write. When emails become too bureaucratic and formal, they also quickly become uninteresting. Dare to write in a way that reflects you.
These are my tips for writing a great email. As you may have noticed, this is not rocket science, but despite that, people tend to forget the most important basics. In short;
- The right email to the right person
- Get to the point
- Think about readability
- Bring your personality