Business English- 15 Tips for writing effective emails

Business English- 15 Tips for writing effective emails

As India’s leading online English speaking course, we are daily fielded with requests for effective tips and tricks for achieving English proficiency. This is applicable to both written as well as spoken English fluency

Many working professionals enroll to our courses and practice English speaking with our online English speaking tutors. With a series of cleverly structured lessons and assignments, our spoken English tutors use conversational lessons to guide our students towards fluency. Written assignments are used to check English grammar, English vocabulary as well writing styles.

A recurrent theme amongst most of our learners is the lack of clarity when it comes to good email etiquette in the work place. In today’s social age, our conversations are impulsive and extremely spontaneous. The fine line between a formal versus as informal response is blurring.

With the vast amount of “over-sharing” most individuals are confused when we ask them what a great email response means. Today, we are sharing few email basics for effective communication in the work place.

  1. Subject – The Subject line of your email is extremely crucial. A great Subject line makes the reader curious about your email contents. Avoid sensationalism to capture the reader’s attention. Stick to clean and short sentences. Do not use emojis, exclamation and question marks. The Subject line should address the audience and the message intent only.
  2. Greet formally – The best greetings are either a simple “Good morning/evening/afternoon” or “Good day”. This is followed by “Respected Sir/Ma’am” and also a “Dear XYZ” if you are somewhat familiar with the recipient. A slightly lesser formal tone is applied with a “Hi” or “Hello”. Addressing someone by their “pet-names” or any other adjective is a big NO as its extremely unprofessional
  3. Always e-introduce – If you already know the email recipients (your co-workers) you can skip this step. But let’s say you do not know the person/people to whom you are writing the email or you are simply writing a cold sales email. In such cases you must e-introduce at the beginning of the email itself. E-introduction sets the tone and purpose of the message. The recipient also feels obliged to reply or direct you to the right individual.
  4. Bullet points – The main body of your email after general greetings and e-introductions comprises of the main message or purpose of your email. Use clean sentences and be precise. Highlight in bold or underline the main message. Its best to use bullet points if there are too many important lines to improve easy readability. Its best to stick to not more than 10 points per email.
  5. Keep it Visually appealing – Do not use “multi colored shader highlights” in your emails. The best colors to stick to are a simple grey or a florescent yellow which are universally accepted. Stick to a single text font and text size, preferably professional fonts like “calibri”, “verdana” or “arial”. If there are any pictures or clipart’s in your email body, ensure that the color hues are easy on the eyes and are dictated by your “logo”.
  6. Concise and to the point - Though underrated, the most important tip for great email writing is to not write lengthy emails. Stick to not more than a 150 words per email. Avoid repetition and address the main purpose of your email concisely with simple sentence constructions. Trim out the general small talk and ensure that your email is not a single word. Do not use cliches or unnecessary movie dialogues.
  7. No emoji’s – Today we have an emoji for every possible human emotion, gesture and other daily accessories. But do not use them in a formal email. You cannot second guess how your audience responds to them and worse, these emoji’s may completely change your email’s primary message. Use them sparingly and at your own discretion if your work colleague is a good friend, but never send one to your boss!
  8. Verify facts and recipient list before sharing – Always verify every detail that your message contains before sharing your email. Verify the recipient list, are all of them required to be marked in the email? This small but important habit will avoid spamming as well as leaking of information to non-related parties at work. Be extra careful with proprietary and sensitive data.
  9. Check for attachments – As mentioned in the above point, the files that you share over emails in the form of attachments can be sensitive information crucial to your audience. Double check your file attachments. Use phrases like “Please find attached” or” Enclosed here” to notify your recipients on the files that you are sharing or referring to in the email.
  10. Respond on time and promptly – Time is of essence in business communications. Responding promptly and on time is crucial in sales and most business proceedings. It can also affect your sales closures, deal conversions and the total turnaround time for your investments to make profit. Moreover, responding on time allows others to do their job well and establishes you as a trusted team player. Another important point here is to refrain writing emails for favors or otherwise beyond working hours. This is not only considered rude; it can also affect your work-life commitments by having round-the-clock work thoughts on your mind.
  11. Refrain from using too many exclamation points – It may seem trivial to you but too many exclamation points in an email means you are overexpressing or are simply too impatient and are not allowing sufficient time for your recipients to respond. It makes you look as someone who is exaggerating and thus unprofessional. A single exclamation is generally used to highlight a very important detail or event. It has been observed that people overuse exclamations around celebratory events, so watch out for your next congratulatory email.
  12. Watch your tone – A written message is stripped off the body-language, facial expressions and other emotional cues that a verbal conversation provides. Thus, written messages can be easily misunderstood. Do not compose the whole email in caps locks as that means you are “angry”. Watch your tone in sentence construction, validate it twice to ensure that you are not coming across as offensive or arrogant.
  13. Always proofread – We are humans and we make mistakes or miss important details. Thus, its best to proof read you final email copy before you hit send. Check for gender appropriate greetings, grammar corrections and spelling mistakes. Today many emails have built in tools that even auto suggest “ready responses” Use these wisely to save you time.
  14. Follow-ups – A Two-day interval is considered a good interval for non-urgent emails. For urgent emails, no response for say 3 hours means you need to follow-up. Another no response on this one and its urgent, you can best call this individual if you have their number. If not, you simply wait. Be polite in your follow-up messages with a clear reason for your urgency.
  15. E-signatures – These are a must and contain key elements that verify that you are not an imposter. Your email signature should include your name, job title and the company logo or web address. Do not use lengthy inspirational quotes, it may seem motivational for you but is simply unprofessional. Also avoid your email address here since its redundant and unnecessary. The signature length should not be more than a maximum three to four lines.

Other important tips and more about common sense is to avoid sharing non-work related articles and web links on your work email id. Do not sign up for non-work related digital magazines and newsletter. Do not use your work email for gossip or open spurious web links that can subject you to malware. Angry email responses are another common habit observed especially when these days we are overworked.

The simple mantra to any email is-

  • Is this information needed in this email?
  • Am I authorized to share this?
  • Is this recipient authorized to this “information”
  • Does this information require an email?

It may seem overwhelming, but be consistent. Practice will make you proficient in effective email writing.

Did you find this article helpful? Which of these tips have you already tried? Are there any other tips that you can offer our readers? We would love to hear from you!


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