Covid-19 has changed the way many of us work, constantly presenting new challenges as restrictions are put into effect. For many of us, this means working from home and relying on email as our core method of communication. As we navigate these unfamiliar work environments, it’s more important than ever to know how to write an effective email. Here are some ways you can do this.
Think first, write second
Whether initiating an email or responding, it’s important to know the “what, when, why and who” before you begin writing. Emails are typically seen as a more informal method of communication, but that doesn’t mean you should skip out on a writing process.
Chances are you’ve received an email that’s missing information or is structured so poorly you need to reread it to decipher the sender's purpose. Having a thoughtful writing process will ensure your message is clear, concise and specific, and it means you won’t have to waste valuable time responding to follow-up questions. Always ask yourself:
- What is the purpose of my email?
- What does my reader need to do with this information? By when? Why?
- Who are my readers and what do they want to know?
Your opening statement should identify the purpose of the email and grab your reader’s attention.
The following paragraph should then specify what your reader needs to do with the information given. Providing a deadline with a reason why will help motivate the reader to complete what you’ve requested.
The rest of your email can focus on the details your reader needs and wants to know. Keep in mind that some people receive dozens of emails a day and don’t have the time (or patience!) to read through long-winded content. It’s important that your message is succinct and that your subject line clearly states the purpose of your email.
Check it twice
Take your time to read through and edit your email to make sure all the information is right before hitting send. You’d be surprised how many spelling errors or unwanted autocorrects might be in there!