The world would come to a screeching halt without email. The genius of being able to communicate so quickly and efficiently with so many people at the same time is astounding. In fact, how anything ever got accomplished before email is a mystery.
Unfortunately, we tend to ignore some of the standards of communication in our rush to send out as many emails as possible. Here are few helpful tips for making your email communications more effective (and potentially less embarrassing):
- Proofread every email, no matter how short it is, and for more important emails, proofread them more than once. You might think you typed exactly what you intended to type, but the connection between brain and fingers is never perfect.
- Not everybody is a master speller, so use spell checker (then proofread your email again!).
- Make sure to be specific. A common mistake in emails is to leave out information, probably because of the prevalent “rush” factor and the fact that typing takes longer than talking.
- Be liberal in the use of paragraphs, and leave blank lines in between them – emails that are a massive blob of text are hard to read and understand, even if the recipient is using something like a Blackberry.
- Use bullets if appropriate – they’re wonderful, and they help people organize and comprehend your message better.
- Don’t be afraid (or too lazy) to include a graphic or other type of visual to aid in understanding or to increase the impact of your email – most email programs can handle it now (and most handheld devices can, too).
- Don’t overuse colors, italics, bold, etc., but DO use them – they can be very helpful in focusing the recipient on the most salient points of your message.
- Remember that every email you send is stored on a hard drive somewhere, so be careful what you say and how you say it. Also, make sure your recipients are exactly the recipients you are targeting (don’t send your email to the wrong “John Smith” in the corporate email address list).
- Pick up the phone once in a while (or switch to phone, whatever) and talk to someone. Sometimes a voice-to-voice conversation is just what the doctor ordered.