Email is a strange communication channel:
- In our childhoods, email is like an arcane science used by adults.
- On joining college, it becomes an unintuitive, new way for notifications about upcoming classes.
- Once we join a profession relying on remote collaboration, it becomes an integral part of our lives.
- Upon retirement, it becomes a distant memory about a forgotten method of communication.
Coming to the third point where email plays a pivotal role in our daily work, a well-written email can save us from a lot of trouble while a bad one becomes a sore point of tension and anxiety.
So how to write a good mail?
It’s all about the structure
A mail should simply be trifurcated into:
The intro sets up the context of the mail, the body elaborates on the subject and the next steps details the actions to be taken up by relevant stakeholders, this last point ensuring the communication thread is followed-up with action for relevant results
Keep It Simple Silly
That’s the golden rule towards entire approach of writing a mail-be it the structure, the language used, the length of the mail (which should be short) and so on
Well-structured subject lines
The subject line placeholder should be used to convey the entire intent of the mail through a short one-liner.
In case there are multiple parameters that should be included to make the mail more specific for readers (like a project name or a reference no.), a clean structure can be followed as below:
Subject: Request for sign-off | Project Galaga
Subject: Invoice Payment Details | Invoice No. 982764
Maintaining a neutral tone
In a work environment, it is extremely crucial to maintain a neutral tone with a lucid communication style.
Neutral tone refers to maintaining an objective, highly professional tone in the mails without advocating for an opinion or expressing one’s emotions too strongly.
While being expressive is good, but within a work setting, it can become a major source of anxiety down the line. Emails, beyond a communication channel, are also used as a record system for future references. An extremely strong inclination towards an objective point related to a certain work-related subject can, down the line, either gain you favor or backfire cause of your stand on the same.
So, if the topic under discussion, is not impacting human lives or overlapping on ethical grounds, it is always in your best interest to maintain a neutral tone.
Write/revert when calm
This is in continuation to the above point. Do not ever write a mail when you are excited or angry.
Mails written under excitement can lead to setting up unrealistic expectation with stakeholders.
Mails written under anger can lead to some red-faced moments the next day.
Our thoughts are over-ridden with a surge of emotions over logic when we are excited. As such, it is always better to write or revert to someone when you are calm and relaxed.
Use smaller attachments
Though around 25 MB of file size is allowed as attachment, if not necessary, it is always better to use smaller attachments, topping at around 5–7 MB.
Larger attachments, at times, cause slow down on the recipient’s end. And people tend to ignore opening or working on such large files for subsequent reverts with the same attachments.
So, to improve the chances of your mails being opened and to make the recipient’s life easier, it is always better to use smaller attachments.
Use rich formatting
Bold that word/phrase that needs attention, highlight that point requiring a follow-up action, tabulate the points of discussion against the speakers to maintain a clear record and so on.
Richly formatted mails are visually appealing, requires less time to go through and attracts attention to the right parts of a mail.
Utilize the email signature like a ninja
Instead of just signing off with a name or contact details, signatures can be used for driving across other information without increasing or cluttering the mail.
Information like your working hours, time zones, off-days, your personal motto etc. can be used in the signature to spruce up the entire mail.
Working hours: 09 AM to 05 PM PST
Consultant, Writer, Dad, Traveler
098–928–9192 | Skype, WhatsApp, Zoom
Consultant, ABC Co. | Upcoming Holiday: 25 Dec, 2021
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
A well-written signature can go miles in personifying the writes in the mind of the reader.
I hope these pointers takes your email writing skills to the next-level and help you in your daily work life.
See you tomorrow !!!