We’re all used to the full in-box – meeting reminders, an inquiry from a co-worker, a spam request to send $10,000 to your stranded friend halfway around the world. Our time is valuable. We typically have an 8-hour workday filled with conference calls, deadlines, and staff meetings. And the ever-present dinging of the in-box.
Returning or sending a message may feel mechanical and hurried. But remember that, just like clothing or body language, your email also leaves an impression. What do you want it to say about you?
Whether contacting a client, a board member, a friendly colleague, or your boss, be mindful in your delivery. Before hitting “send,” ask yourself: Is this how I would speak to this person if they were standing right in front of me?
- Be Direct: The bottom line is that people don’t thoroughly read their emails. Instead, they often scan through your email, quickly moving to their next message. Avoid redundancy. If you can say it with three words, then why use nine? Use a bulleted list to highlights points and deadlines. This will keep your information from getting lost within the text.
- No Shouting: There is never a good time to use all caps. Whether you intend to or not, the email will read as a yell.
- Keep out the Cute: Avoid pasting large images in your signature lines. Sweet pictures of a kitten, a seasonal landscape, or memes with inspirational quotes are not work appropriate. As a matter of fact, they can cause your email to get caught in a junk or spam filter.
- Establish Trust: Use your message to show respect to your recipient, as well as yourself. Be aware of your spelling and grammar as it speaks volumes of your skill. Easy ways to show (and earn) respect include: “I appreciate …,” “your feedback is valuable,” “this has been really helpful” –or the most obvious—“thank you.”
- A Strong Handshake: Think of your signature as a business card that you’re leaving behind. Avoid colored fonts or a too-fancy script. Set up a signature template to automatically include your full name, title, organization (hyperlinked to the site), phone information, and email.