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
Now in the business world we are using emails more often than face to face communication especially inside of the company. As a new graduate enter in the professional work place, we are often meet some challenges from life and work. I kind of meet the same confusion as you do now. This happened when I’m sending emails to professors or my group members. Because I often have so much want to say in the email so I will write a very long and unclear emails. But as time goes on, I’m a senior now, I improve my email skills a lot. Although I’m not in professional business work environment, but I think I can provide you some suggestions to overcome this difficulty.
The first suggestion is to keep your headline short and clear. When people starting to check their emails, they will first look at the subject line. The subject line is the first impression of your whole email. Subject line can also give people a basic understand the topics of the Emil. The reader will often use the subject line to identify the importance of email. If you are writing a subject line with too much words, people may consider that is a junk mail. The business insider website gives some great examples of the subject line: “”Meeting date changed,” “Quick question about your presentation,” or “Suggestions for the proposal.” But sometimes come up with a good subject line is difficult. I remember when I was a freshman, I was sending an email to my geography professor about his office hour to ask some question about exams. When I was writing the subject line of the email, I’m think about write “questions about the exam”, “Talk about the exam” actually I think a few subject lines. But I cannot decide which one is better. So I send out an email without subject line. That seems ridiculous, but I really did that. That happened before 3 days of the exam. After one day, I’m still waiting for professor reply my email. I was worried about the exam, so I send another email to professor. Finally, one day before the exam, professor reply my email and he said he found my email in the trash because I did not put a subject line for emails. After that I understand how important the subject line is.
The second suggestion from Business Email Etiquette Tips is “got to the point”. This is important one, because as you mention your emails are confusing people. You said you have to include a lot of complex information in the email. I understand it is hard to include a lot information in one email. But if you do that you will confuse your readers and even yourself. Too much information is not good for you because is hard for you to sort materials in future. For the reader it is hard for them to read and will cause them to miss some important information. You can try to write one topic in the email and keep your words simple and easy for people to read. If you want to include some other information in the email, you can trying to use key points in the email. That can provide a clear and straight forward way for people to read. Do not trying to include a lot topics in only one email that will get people really confused.
The last suggestion is read your emails before you are sending to others check your email again.This is important, if you do not understand your email, of course others cannot understand. Actually when you read your emails you will find a lot mistakes. The last but not least thing is, it’s important to impress your boss with your first project but it seems like you are stressed out of the heavy responsibility. So what you need to do is trying to relax a little bit and list a checklist for all the things and follow that list step by step.