The average business professional spends 28% of their workweek reading and answering emails. Because it’s such a huge part of workplace culture, it’s important to make sure that emails are used wisely (and, if possible, learn how to spend less time on them!)
With that in mind, here’s a few ways to make the time you spend writing emails as effective as possible.
1. Use Clear Subject Lines
Arguably, this is one of the most important parts of the email you’ll send. Depending on the goal of your email, an effective subject line can be the difference between whether or not your email is even opened.
To write an effective subject line, you’ll want to keep it short and clear. If someone asked you to describe your email in 5-10 words, that’s your subject line. If you’re asking someone a question, don’t be afraid to put the question itself in the subject line, then elaborate in the email itself.
2. Write Like You Speak
When possible, write as simply as possible. Don’t add words for the sake of filling space–make each one count. If you use acronyms, make sure to spell them out at least once.
Once you’ve written your email, try reading it out loud (or in your head). If it sounds conversational, you’re good to go.
That being said…
3. Keep It Professional
Conversationally-written emails can be great, but remember that you’re in a workplace. If you wouldn’t want your mother (or your boss) to read it, don’t send it.
Keep it casual and professional–the two don’t have to be opposites.
4. Get to the (Bullet) Point
Notice how this article is structured? Each point is neatly divided into its own section, making it easier for you, the reader to digest the information.
If your email involves steps or can be broken down into separate points, try creating a bulleted/numbered list or separate bolded headers so that the people you’re emailing are able to quickly understand everything they need to.
5. Create an Email Signature
An email signature not only allows people the opportunity to connect with you in the way that best works for them – it also looks professional. A few things to consider adding to your signature: the company you work for, your job title, and one or two ways you can be reached outside of email.
HubSpot has a great email signature generator that’s easy to use – you can even include links to your social accounts on platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter.
6. Start With a Template
Writer’s block? In a time crunch? Try starting with a template, then making adjustments based on your need/voice.
The Muse has a helpful set of email templates for workplace situations, management communications, and networking.
7. Proofread, Proofread, Proofread (Then One Last Time, Just to Be Sure)
With more conversational and less formal emails, this is slightly less important–but whether you’re emailing the dean or the desk assistant, it’s still good practice.
Run through your email once or twice to make sure there are no typos or grammatical errors.
8. Are You Forgetting Something?
At this point, you have the perfect email. It’s well-written, gets the point across, and even has a few bullet points. After pressing send, you realize you’ve forgotten to do one thing: attach the document that the entire email was about.
Before you send off an email, take a minute to make sure that all of the information that needs to be there is there. Put yourself in the shoes of the recipient – what questions might they have about the email you’re about to send? Could it be answered beforehand by adding a quick sentence? Doing so could save you – and your coworkers–hours of time in the long run. Also, don’t forget to include any attachments.
9. The Difference Between CC: and BCC:
When you “carbon copy” someone on an email, they’ll receive it in their inbox as though it was sent straight to them. CC’ing someone on an email is a good way to keep them in the loop without requiring action on their end.
“Blind carbon copying” is similar, with one big twist: The recipients of the email will not see anyone who has been BCC’d. It’s often used to protect email addresses when an email is sent to hundreds or thousands of people at once.
In some situations, using BCC is seen as unethical. Use it with caution – if you do decide to BCC someone, let them know beforehand to contact you directly rather than replying to the email. Unless you’re sending an email to a large group or absolutely need to protect someone’s identity, stick with CC.
Share Your Own Tips
How do you make sure your emails are effective? If you have tips, tricks, or email templates that you’ve found helpful, share them with our LinkedIn group. We’d love to hear from you!