Here’s a semi-fun fact – the average person sends and receives approximately 130 work-related emails every. single. day. Whoa, right? That’s a crap ton of emails. If you want to get technical with it, that’s 16.25 emails per work-hour. In today’s fast-paced, tech-savvy work environment, there’s no denying that email is the number one form of communication amongst basically every employed person with a pulse.
The trouble is, email is stressful, especially when you’re sending important information to your boss, or your future boss, or the person you hope will be your boss after you nail that job interview. There’s a lot of pressure in crafting a well-written, eloquent email. But sometimes the stress (or laziness) gets in the way and we end up sending something that reads more like an eighth-grader’s poorly-procrastinated literature assignment than a highly educated inquiry written by an adult.
Thankfully, we’re sharing some tips and tricks that will take your email skills from ordinary to extraordinary and basically guarantee you make a lasting impression on whomever you’re trying to impress.
1. Always, always, always fill the subject line with key information. Think of the subject line as a newspaper headline. Keep it brief, but make sure it adequately explains what your email is about. More often than not, the subject line is what determines whether the receiver will open your email or hit delete.
2. Begin with a professional greeting. The first line of your email sets the tone for the rest of your message. It’s your personal handshake and should be taken seriously. Don’t screw it up with a limp attempt at introducing yourself. Be firm, but polite. Confident, but friendly. Most importantly, keep it professional.
3. Break up the body of your text. One of the first things I learned about blogging is that long, wordy paragraphs are big fat no-nos. Heavy amounts of text make your readers feel like they’re sifting through that European history textbook they hated so much back in college. Your emails should not read like an academic textbook. They should be brief and concise. Limit your paragraphs to two or three sentences, then hit enter and start a new one. The more white space, the better.
4. Avoid the word “just” at all costs. It’s a weak word. It’s apologetic and sucks the confidence out of your voice. You never “just” do something. You do it. You don’t “just” ask when you can expect to hear back from so-and-so. You ask. Period. That’s it. “Just” doing something makes you appear passive, like you’re apologizing for interrupting your reader’s day. Write with confidence and remove “just” from your vocabulary.
5. Spellcheck and proofread. Always. No matter what. Even if you’re the greatest speller in the world, you’re still human – you make mistakes. Do the dirty work and edit the heck out of your email. Get someone else’s eyes on it if you can. A misspelled word, even if it’s as simple as “the,” makes you look dumb and lazy and all things bad. Also, take extreme caution when it comes to proper nouns. Misspelling the name of your recipient or potential workplace demonstrates that you didn’t take the time to research their company or spend adequate time writing your message. Do your homework. It pays off.
6. Conclude with a proper send-off. Show some appreciation to your reader and thank them for taking time out of their busy day to read your email. They could have easily ignored you but, because you crafted a well-written message with a grabby subject line, a polite greeting, and a digestible, confident message, they didn’t. Thank them for that. People like feeling appreciated, even if it’s as subtle as being thanked for reading an email. It shows professionalism and respect, and it helps you stand out in their over-crowded inbox.