How to Write Clear and Professional Emails

Emails are certainly a convenient way to communicate at work, but they are all too easily misunderstood.  A recent study by Sendmail found that 64% of people have sent or received an email that caused unintended anger or confusion.

  1. Keep emails short, clear, and to-the-point. By writing clearly, you’ll gain a reputation as someone who knows what they want and who gets things done.
  2. Know the purpose of your email. If you don’t know why you’re sending your email or what you need from the recipient, you shouldn’t be sending it.
  3. Use the “one thing” rule. The less you include in your emails, the better. Make each email you send about one thing only.
  4. Practice empathy when writing your emails. Ask yourself: “How would I interpret this?”, How would this make me feel if I received it?”  Thinking of other people when you write your emails will change how people respond to you.  Remember, people are busy.  They also appreciate getting a compliment, and they like to be thanked.
  5. Limit yourself to 5 sentences. According to Guy Kawasaki, “Less than five sentences is often abrupt and rude, more than 5 sentences wastes time.” Of course, there will be times when it’s impossible to keep an email to 5 sentences, but in most cases, 5 sentences are sufficient.
  6. Stick to a standard structure, which includes a greeting or pleasantry, the reason for your email, a call to action, a closing message, and a signature. Your signature should include your name, job title, and contact information.
  7. Use short words, sentences, and paragraphs. Never use a long word where a short one will do. Short words show respect for your reader.  If it’s possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

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