No matter how often you use email, chances are there are still a few things you could make even better about the messages you drop into your colleagues' inboxes. Many of the small changes you can make to improve email communications take just seconds, but they go a long way toward making your professional life easier.
- Use a clear subject line. Clearly and succinctly state the topic in your email's subject line . This often means using a more detailed subject line such as "Need notes from Tuesday's meeting" instead of a vague one-worder such as "Important." Self-explanatory subject lines grab your reader's attention and usually take priority over mystery messages.
- Stay focused. Following the rule of "one email, one topic" is one of the most effective ways to improve email communications. People often skim the beginning of the email to get the gist of the topic, especially with long emails . That means any additional topics you tack on at the end are likely to be overlooked entirely.
- Tell your readers what action you need them to take. State what you want clearly and directly. Do you need the email's recipient to answer a question, bring you something, or be somewhere at a certain time? Then say so. Leave it up to the recipient to guess what you want and chances are they'll do nothing.
- Keep it professional. Without tone of voice and facial expressions, conveying implied meaning can be difficult. In an email, your attempt at humor or subtle hints can end up causing confusion or offense if misinterpreted. To stay on the safe side, keep your writing straightforward and save the jokes for the break room.
- Proofread carefully. Yes, it takes a few seconds extra, but it could save you from embarrassing mistakes or time-wasting confusion. Check for misspellings, missing words, and grammatical errors, and look up anything you're not sure about. Reading your email aloud is a quick and easy way to catch errors your eyes alone might skip.
Image via Shutterstock.com