April 22, 2014
Email is a great convenience. It helps us communicate quickly and allows us to focus on a task without having to make a phone call or face-to-face contact.
However, there is a downside to that convenience. When you can't talk to someone face-to-face, the message is sometimes mixed. On one recent occasion, for example, I received a business email from a client that I perceived as unhappy. I immediately called him and apologized if I had upset him in any way. He was shocked, and assured me that there was no problem; I had mistaken his abrupt email message for frustration. The quick connection that email provides can sometimes lead to a disconnection.
Helpful tips for avoiding common business email mistakes
Here are some helpful tips to ensure that your business email is a success.
1. Use your subject line wisely. Make sure that your subject actually relates to your email. This not only helps the reader prioritize, but allows them to find the email with ease should they save it. Instead of a subject line like, Important, or worse, no subject line, try something more specific like, Financial Reports Due Today.
2. Keep it short and simple. Include your main point in the first couple of sentences, and if your email becomes an essay, you should schedule a meeting or phone call with the individual or group. Do not be the person that sends an essay in every email. Do you hear me? Don’t do it!
3. Avoid acronyms, emoticons and shouting. Using textspeak like LOL (laugh out loud) and emoticons should be left to text messages with friends or family. And shouting, or using ALL CAPS, is annoying and is perceived negatively by readers.
4. Review from the reader’s perspective. Email does not lend itself to the tone or inflection of one’s voice. Consider this email message: If you don’t get me those numbers by close of business, we will miss the deadline. Without important non-verbal cues, the message can get lost and misconstrued. Remember to review and write emails from the reader’s perspective. An alternative could be: I wanted to give you a quick reminder that the financial report deadline is 5 p.m. today. It is important that we complete it today so we can issue payroll. Thank you for your assistance!
5. Proofread and spell check. Before you hit send, take a moment to look over your email for mistakes. Most email programs include this feature; please use it to your benefit.
6. Close your message professionally. Use a closing such as Thank you or Sincerely, and use a signature block with your name, title, company, mailing address, email, website and contact numbers for easy follow-up. Most email providers and programs have an option to add a signature block to use in every email.
Lastly, never put in an email something that may come back to embarrass you later.
The opinions of Jessica Michael are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or the Penton Farm Progress Group.
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