“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify, simplify!”
– Henry David Thoreau
If you’re like me, you may send anywhere from 10 to 50 email messages a day for personal and business communications.
Nothing can be more frustrating the receiving a lengthy email from a friend or co-worker, reading it and not being able to understand what it was they were asking you. Or, maybe you answer one question, but miss part of the message.
Writing clear, concise emails is a learnable and necessary skill.
Here are 6 best practice writing tips for composing clean, concise email messages, especially for business communications:
- Subject: State your subject line clearly. State clearly in the subject line what the email is about. Your reader shouldn’t have to open the email to determine what it is about.
- Name: Address the Recipient by Name. I like to use “Hi” as it’s friendly and can be used to a known or a new contact.
- Upfront. State the purpose of your email – why you’re writing it – upfront. This should tie back to subject line). If you’re asking for feedback then state, “I’m contacting you to get your feedback about…”
- Short. Keep the email short and to the point by provide the necessary why and supporting detail but skip the extraneous information. Your reader does not want to read through fifty lines of text to find out what can be said in better.
- Grammar. Use good grammar and be careful of acronyms and slang. LOL and BTW are appropriate for character limited text messages but may be lost in some readers. Writing in
- Ending. End with a friendly salutation. I like to use “Cheers,” “Kind Regards,” or “Best Regards” depending on the recipient. Include your contact information (like phone number or address) if necessary.
Finally, don’t forget about the phone call. If your email message is long, sensitive or likely to cause a lot of back and forth emails, a phone call may be the simpler, more production option.
David B. Glover, MSE, MS, CSCS
President, ENDURANCEWORKS, LLC
Founder, School of Tri
Author of Full Time and Sub-Nine: Fitting Iron Distance Training into Everyday Life