Billions of emails are sent worldwide each day- we all know that! Emails are the major form of business communications today, written by all levels of staff, in all types of company. We know this too. However, did you know that more often than not, staff have to deal with emails without formal training?
In the past, companies routinely trained employees in writing paper letters (remember those, we still get them once in a while) and reports – but not so with emails. It’s as if it’s assumed that today’s professionals know how to email. Well, we do know how to send emails, but do we know how to write them?
Here are my tips on how you – in your academic capacity (e.g. sending emails to lecturers, etc) as well as in your professional capacity (e.g. when applying for jobs) can write business emails properly:-
Tip 1. Correct Addressing
No, I don’t mean the email address here, I’m talking about the salutation or greeting you should be using to start your emails with. If it’s someone you are emailing for the first time, you should most definitely be using “Dear” and not “Hello” or “Hi“. That’s just how it is.
Tip 2. Setting the Tone
Time and time again, professionals the world over complain about poor tone and lack of manners in business writing today – especially in emails! This is mainly because professionals tend to see writing emails as the same thing as chatting online (you know, like on Skype, Google Talk, WhatsApp even). The psychology behind this is that as emails are also an online form of communication, they are of a more social nature, therefore, it’s okay to be sloppy in their writing and so brief in tone that it becomes quite clear that little or no thought has been put into writing the email. That’s not a good impression to make, professionally speaking.
Tip 3. Culture Clashing
Consider the following examples, if you will:-
”Thanks loads 🙂”
”Why haven’t you met the deadline?”
”It is imperative that some assessment is made on each new version of the product”
Which one ticks the box for you? Which one would work for the person you are sending the email too? Cultural sensitivity matters, more so in today’s globalized economy. So, do give this a little thought.
Tip 4. Structure Matters
Just like a jigsaw puzzle requires its pieces to join together to make sense, so too does business writing need structure to make professional sense. After all, where money or respect is involved, these things matter for sure! Look at it this way, a badly-structured email has the following features:-
a) Words that just come out of the top of the sender’s head without structure
b) No stated objectives or purpose; i.e. what’s the point of the email?
c) No attention to spelling, punctuation, grammar and other factors concerning quality control
d) No ‘call to action‘ – i.e. contact details – provided for following up.
A well-structured email would be the opposite of all these, you see.
Tip.5 Signing Off
Lastly, the way we end an email also matters. By simply saying “Anita :)” will just not do when writing business emails. You should end with a formal greeting, e.g. “Best Wishes”, or “Kind Regards“. I can concede that “Yours Sincerely” or “Yours Faithfully” would be over-doing things when it’s only email.
About the Author:
If you like this article and want more tips on other forms of professional writing, check out the author’s book here: https://www.facebook.com/ImproveYourGlobalBusinessEnglish or follow her on Twitter @SudakshinaKina