Dear New and Confused,
Writing an email to a group of coworkers can be extremely intimidating, especially when you don’t have a ton of experience with it. However, once you get a hang of the general format of a business email, it is all about being able to interpret the situation and knowing how to appropriately communicate what you have to say.
Beginning Details: Whether it’s your first email to an employer, or a weekly update to coworkers, it is important to organize your information right off the bat. This first key component is a clear subject line. This is the initial thing that will grab your recipients’ attention, so it is important to immediately state what issue is being addressed. It is possible that the person you’re writing to gets tons of emails each day, so you need to make sure you’re specifying your purpose right away to get a desired response.
Next, in the first few sentences, you should introduce yourself with a greeting, thank them for their time, and address in slightly more detail what the rest of your message is going to regard. The formality of both of these components can depend on how many times you have communicated with each other prior to the message, how serious the topic is, and who exactly is going to be reading and responding to the message. This is the first impression the reader is going to get from you, so it is important to be clear, concise, and professional.
The Body: Much like the introduction to the email, you must communicate the rest of the email similar manner. Sentences should be simplified and easy to understand. This is not the place to fit in as many complex sentences as possible. Even if there is a lot of information that needs to be sent out, it is better to break it down into smaller, more brief points that are easier for the reader to interpret.
Although it may seem like common sense, make sure there aren’t any grammar or spelling mistakes within the message. Since there is already a lot of detailed information within the project, you don’t want to make things even more confusing by failing to proofread. Unfortunately, instead of focusing on the content for the project, readers might be distracted or confused if there are any simple grammatical errors.
Also, make sure your audience doesn’t need to open a bunch of additional attachments to get the information they need for the project. It can be frustrating when you have to go to multiple different places to get everything they need on one topic. Instead, try to include the key points within the email itself. Then, you can also provide an attachment just in case they want to study it in greater detail. This will allow for people to respond with questions faster than they would if they had to read through separate documents.
Closing Remarks: Just like you did when you first started your email, it is important to thank the reader for their time, and briefly revisit the key components of the message. Along with your thank you message, you should leave them feeling as if you are going to continue communicating with them. They should feel like you are available for any questions or concerns going forward, and you should always respond to them in a timely manner when they do reach out to you.
Overall, if you take anything away from this, I would advise you remember to always maintain formality and clarity, while still being concise. Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out to your boss for help. You did just graduate, so you are still learning and it is okay to not have all of the answers right off the bat. Now that you have a basic understanding and some guidance, maybe give it another shot, and then have a conversation with your boss or colleagues if you are still struggling.
I wish you the best of luck going forward!
Dear 3040 and Beyond:
Help! I’m in big trouble at work. I just graduated from college and I’m leading a really big project. I want to impress my boss, but he says my emails confuse everyone and that I’m basically doing everything wrong. I was afraid to ask what that means. I have to send out lots of complex information to the people on the project every week, so I can’t help writing so much! Do you have any advice about how to write a great email?
New and Confused