It’s kind of funny that someone would write an article about this don’t you think? I mean, how often are we paying attention to our emails daily?
If you work in a corporate setting then you know exactly how important this skill is. So many of us are so busy throughout the work day that when an email comes across our monitors, we find it more as a distraction from what we are already doing. If you do not compose an email correctly more than likely it will get deleted, or will it not be replied to.
So this is why I write this article. I hope it will be of some use to you.
Before you get started...
1. Who is This For? - Check Your Audience
Imagine for a second that you are the manager of a company. You have business meetings back to back, you have tasks that are about a mile long, and you have fires to put out.
And your monitor just pinged a new email.
How would you even feel about that? Often than not, most individuals in this position groan. They would groan even louder if they opened up that email to find it was as long as a blog post.
This is why before you get started, you need to take into consideration who you will be sending the email to.
I am sure if the sender of that email had thought of that, the email would suit the reader a little better. The body of the email would be a little shorter and easier to read. They would be able to pinpoint what is required of them quicker and give the sender a formidable response.
In addition to this, you will also need to take into consideration the personality of the reader.
Yes, you read that right.
There will be times in which individuals who you need to communicate will not easily receive your emails. You need to take certain steps to ensure the recipient of that email will be open to your message. You can do this several different ways.
One way to do this would be to build rapport with the individual before an email is needed. Talk to them and find out what subjects the person is interested in. Get to know them.
People do not like being ignored. Taking the extra time to get to know the person can go a long way prior to you having to sit and write an email.
Another way to make sure your email is well received is by gauging the overall mood of your intended recipient. If the person is having a bad day, or their schedule is packed then check and gauge the importance of the email.
This will help you too. If you know you need to get your message out, but it’s not so important that you need the answer today, then you will not be so eager to receive a response back and will allow ample amount of time for it.
2. What is the Message That You Want to Get Across?
Think about what exactly you are trying to convey in your message and how it will be received.
Questions to ponder would be:
Should this be an email? Can I make a phone call instead?
Is this person unable to receive phone calls at this time?
Do I need an immediate response?
Do you need to track this email?
Is follow up needed after a response is received from the recipient?
Is the expected response going to be long or short?
These questions can further guide you in deciding whether you should be sending an email regarding the situation on hand in the first place.
Now, onto composing the email…
3. The Subject Line
Most people fail to realize the importance of composing an email with the right subject line.
The subject line should be the title of the document that you are creating. It should summarize in 3-5 words what the email is about, and what may be required.
The most effective emails I have received from our staff has a subject line that just by looking at it I can tell whether a response or action is required. I can almost start looking into the matter without reading the entire body of the email just by the subject line.
If the subject line of the email is composed in the manner that has been mentioned, any manager or supervisor can prepare themselves for what the email may contain. They can also prepare other applications that are needed in order to fulfill the sender’s request.
This should be a model that people take into account when emailing in general. Especially those emails that you require a response to immediately.
There is no question that the subject line requires some consideration, thoughtfulness, and creativity on the sender’s part.
4. The Body
When composing an email you should make sure that the email is short and to the point. If a response or action is required from the recipient of the email, it should be clearly stated.
The recipient should never guess what’s required of them. The requirement should be the last thing on the body of the email before your signature. If you need to give background information before asking, then it should be written before in clear, short sentences.
Space out the requirement so that it is eye catching. And please, make sure you don’t use caps throughout the entire body of the email. This speaks to the general tone of the email.
There are always tough personality traits in the office. Therefore when composing your email you should be especially mindful of the email tone. When you read back the email you have just written, take the time to put your feeling sensors on.
Does this email sound too formal? Will the recipient of the email take this in a different way then intended?
While re-reading the drafted email, be on the lookout for grammatical errors not easily picked up by the autocorrect software. These types of errors include those in which words are spelled correctly but are used in the incorrect context.
Take your time when you re-read your email. Make sure that what you are saying is coming from a place in which you wish to collaborate with the person, instead of telling them what to do, or stating facts.
6. Hit Send
Congrats! You are ready to send. Before sending though…
Make sure that you include any attachments that the recipient may need.
Make sure that you are sending it to the right person. Sometimes, the individual that you are sending to may not be the right one. This is why taking the first step in contemplating who the message is for is important.
Will they know who to forward your message to? If not, do they have the capability to find out? These are all questions which should be answered before hitting that send button.
7. Follow Up
You thought things were done after you hit send? Guess again.
Most times when you get a response back, an action will be required. Therefore you should prepare yourself for the follow up.
In truth, you should be preparing for the follow up task in step 2 of this blog, when you review what the message is that you will be sending. This helps you prepare yourself for what may be required of YOU after.
When you take the time to review what happens after the message is sent, it reduces time spent performing the task drastically. Your colleagues will look at you like some type of Mighty Mouse of emails when in actuality all the work was done prior to the very composition of the email.
Composing an email is one of the most basic skills that I think we all overlook. Most individuals, even those who have been working in corporations for years, tend to forget how important it is to write something clear, concise, and to the point. As a young adult, it is your responsibility that you master this craft in order to be successful.
Be smart, be courageous, and be kind. Good luck!
Yaritza Ellison has been an nurse since 2010. She has been essential to the healing process of many and seeks to continue to do so. Her passion for mental health and self help literature has lead her to launch justyari.org, where she aspires to coach young ladies navigating through work-life balance.