I’ve read ten articles on writing better emails at work. Here are the best 3 tips to improve your emails.
1️⃣ Write a subject line to help the receiver(s).
As a minimum tell them if the message is ‘For information’ of if ‘Action required’. Even better, tell them right there in the subject line what the action is and, if you can, how long it will take them. For example, “10 minutes: Approve project X plan” is better than “Project X plan”.
2️⃣ Put the main point first.
I know it seems polite to give context before you ask for something but people are busy. This is especially true if you are writing to someone more senior than you. But think about it: does a senior person want to waste their time reading the background? Ask first, and put the context afterwards. That way the recipient can choose to read the context or not.
This means that, instead of:
Next week the board are considering capital investment budgets for next year. This is a chance to secure funding for Project X providing we can pull a business case together. To help could you send me your latest estimate of the cost of Project X by the end of this week, please.
Please send me your latest estimate of the cost for Project X by the end of this week. Context: Next week the board are considering capital investment budgets for next year. This is a chance to secure funding for Project X providing we can pull a business case together.
3️⃣ Use hyperlinks where possible.
Very few people write plain text emails so why would you include the full URL of something you are referring to (whether this is something on the web or within the business’s systems)? Learn to highlight text and use Ctrl K (Windows) or Cmd K (Mac) to add the URL as a hyperlink to the text. Your email will look so much cleaner when your client, colleague or boss opens it.