I regularly read the tips from the expert trainer for business writing, Ms.Lynn Gaertner-Johnston, who was the founder of the company called Syntax Training. She also conducts seminars on Business writing, and she shares some 26 tips.
Read these 26 email tips from seminar participants. Then apply and share those that fit your corporate culture.
1. When you complete a task you were assigned in email, reply to that message with the word “Done.” That one word efficiently communicates your competence.
2. If you write about a case, client, or account, include the name of the case, client, or account as the first word of the subject. Doing so helps your readers focus on and then file the message.
3. When you send an email, wait a reasonable amount of time before phoning to ask “Did you get my email?” Do not assume people will receive or read your message immediately. (But see below.)
4. If your email is urgent to both you and the recipient, send it and phone immediately. By alerting the recipient to look for the message, you reduce everyone’s anxiety.
5. Use an attachment or a link for lengthy instructions. Avoid pasting long instructions into the body of an email.
6. Keep your message free of unnecessary photos and graphics, including your logo. These often require time to download and an additional click from your reader.
7. Never write what you would not say to a VP in your company.
8. Write one message instead of five. Do this by thinking carefully about what your reader needs to know and what you need to communicate.
9. When you write about clients or customers, assume that your message may be forwarded to them. Even if it won’t be forwarded, it will remind you to write about them professionally and discreetly.
10. Think for a moment before clicking SEND. In that moment, you may remember or realize something essential.
11. Before replying, read or skim the entire email. Don’t assume you know what the reader is asking. Find out.
12. Avoid !!! and ??? and . . . . Use standard punctuation, which doesn’t call attention to itself.
13. Copy only the necessary recipients. Never add people to your Copy line to show off.
14. Avoid using the Outlook red exclamation mark (“High Importance”) unless it is a standard way of communicating importance or urgency in your organization. Many people do not even notice it.
15. Eliminate unnecessary replies, especially to a group. If you would not telephone the group with the message, don’t email it.
16. Rather than making a negative assumption, be sure you have all the facts. When you do have the facts, pick up the telephone. Don’t put a negative response in writing.
17. Include “relationship” comments in email to your customers and clients. Congratulate them on weddings, births, vacations, new homes, and other positive events. Build the relationship by showing that you care about the reader.
18. Think while you read. Avoid reading email while doing other things, or your response and understanding may be incomplete.
19. When you tell people in an email that information is housed someplace (for example, on a website or server), give the exact location or the link. Even though the location may be obvious to you, people who are new to the information may need help finding it.
20. When you add someone to an ongoing thread, explain to others (and the person) why you have added the new person. Also explain why you are copying someone on a message if it is not obvious.
21. When you respond to someone’s questions within their message (in line), include a sentence at the beginning of your reply, letting them know your answers appear below. Otherwise, the other person may think you have replied in error with a blank message.
22. Don’t greet others with “Hey” unless “Hey” is considered a professional greeting in your company.
23. Use “you” near the beginning of your email so your reader becomes engaged with your message. (Of course, avoid “you” with blaming language such as “You made a mistake.”)
24. Avoid trying to have the last word unless it’s “Have a great vacation” or “Thank you for all your excellent work on this project.” End the thread as soon as possible.
25. If you provide someone’s name as a contact, be sure to copy that person on the communication. That way, he or she will be prepared for the contact.
26. Remember that email is forever. Forever.
For 110 more tips for email efficiency, order her booklet, “110 Tips for Sending Email That Gets Read–and Gets Results.”