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
New and Confused,
Have no fear; you will be on your way to writing complete, thorough emails in no time! This problem that you are having is not because you are a bad writer rather you may not be giving your emails the time or thought that a publisher may give their book. You will be able to have your colleague’s attention after just a few steps. Erin Greenawald, from forbes.com, explains that there are three major items to address before you send that email out to our office.
- Slow Down
- Fact Check
- Think How You Would Feel If It Went Public
Slowing down while writing your email doesn’t mean that you need to write a novel or make your letter packed with “filler”. Instead it means that you should make sure that you understand what you are writing about. “When writing an email with important information, make sure to include that in the front of your writing.” says Rob Asghar. The longer the writing the better chance readers will lose focus. Especially with the large amounts of emails that business employees are receiving daily. “We are all in that race to get to inbox zero.” explains Greenawald. With this statement in mind, keeping the meat of your information towards the front gives your readers a better chance to internalize your document. Slowing down while writing an email also means making sure that all those pesky mistakes are taken care of. Editing emails is important for the level of professionalism you want to portray. The manner in which you address your audience is very important. Are you too business-like when your writing is meant to be more personalized or visa versa? Giving an email an extra ten minutes will result in a much better response from your readers.
Similarly to taking your time while writing, fact checking makes sure that the information within the document is accurate. Carolyn Cohn explains that, “If you don’t bother to fact check your content and it turns out that there are inaccuracies, you will be jeopardizing your professional credibility.” Nothing can bruise a reputation within a business than supplying your audience with flawed data. Fact checking also means that you are spelling and individuals name correctly. This is an easy way to embarrass yourself but it is a quick fix! If you are attempting to make a great first impression, making sure that all the data is accurate will lead to you being seen as a knowledgeable asset to your reader.
Finally, thinking about how you would feel if your writing went public is a great way to double check how you feel about your writing. “This is a great final gut-check to make sure your emails sound respectful and professional and ultimately represent how you want to be portraying yourself to the world.” says Greenawald. If your email were
to be on the front page of the Wall Street Journal would you be proud of it? Would it make sense to the masses? These questions let you take a step back and see your writing as your viewers would. Truth is, emails get sent out to the masses all the time, whether it was an accident or not, and taking a step back can protect you from these common mistakes.
Overall, you are in a position for a simple fix! In order to not confuse your readers all you need to do is; slow down, fact check, and think how you would feel if your document went public. Any boss should be open to help you develop your emailing capabilities since he or she hired you as an asset for the business you are working for. You will be able to formulate a concise and accurate email soon enough! Happy emailing!