Despite the high range of technological advancements over time, email has endured. Now, rather than sending emails to friends and family, people use social media. But professional work environments have garnered email as a basic and quick form of communication. Why? Well, emails can come in handy, especially when requests, sales, or customer service come into play. If you forget something, you can always refer back to the original email.
My job as a digital marketing specialist relies almost solely on reading emails and responding to them. I work as a webmaster and receive requests to update pages on the website, all through email. Occasionally, my team and I will receive calls, but we always tell our clients to send an email we can use as a reference. After a year or two of this, I’ve read tons of emails and most of them are professional, but sometimes, a few come in that make us scratch our heads.
So here are five ways you can make your emails more professional, assertive, and effective.
Use active voice, rather than passive.
A lot of the time, we receive email requests that start with, “I was hoping you could assist me…”
This is just one example of someone using passive voice. It also makes it seem like they weren’t sure whether to send the email in the first place. A better way to word it would be, “Please assist me with the following…” This sounds much more assertive without being too pushy. It’s our job to help them and respond to the request, so we don’t think it’s pushy at all.
Keep emails short and to the point.
Let’s say you need to send an email to your boss to ask a question. Your supervisor most likely has to sift through tons of emails every day and doesn’t need to read something super long, especially, if you’re rambling. Stick to the point and keep it brief. You could say something like, “Hey, quick question…” then ask your question. Never send an email just to chat.
Know when to use complete sentences and when to shorten them.
Sometimes complete sentences are necessary, especially if you have never met the person you are emailing, or if they are in a position very high up. But in the previous example, when asking a question, it’s OK to not use complete sentences because you’re emailing someone you see every day, and you’re trying to keep the email brief. Keep in mind that your email must make sense and be readable. Also, your email could be forwarded or the recipient could CC someone else in their response, so you always want to check for spelling or grammar mistakes.
Use fonts wisely and avoid the use of color.
We’ve all seen those emails in entirely green font or Comic Sans. And guess what? We’ve all made fun of them. No professional should ever use a weird font or one that seems decorative. Use basic fonts, such as Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, Helvetica, etc. Stay away from fonts like Impact, Comic Sans, Courier New (the typewriter font), and any script or calligraphy fonts. I could go on and on about fonts, but you get the gist. When in doubt, just keep your email font setting on default.
Don’t ask personal questions or address your email as “sirs.”
This is a big one. People seem to think that asking a personal question will seem friendly, but in reality, it can come across as odd, especially if you rarely ever speak to the recipient or have never met them in person. Like I said before, keep it brief.
If you don’t know who you are emailing––for example, if you have to send a help request to your IT department––don’t address the email with “sirs” or any other word that implies the person who will respond is a man. If you don’t know, don’t use it.
As a webmaster, I’ve seen it all. I even had someone address me as “webmistress” once he realized I was a woman. I did not think that was funny, to say the least.
Bonus tip: Emojis are OK but only use the basic ones.
Depending on where you work, the use of emojis could make or break your email. Some people like them, and some people don’t. I refrain from using them unless someone emailed me using one. I prefer the actual emojis rather than the typed, keyboard ones you create from punctuations like, :). They just seem a little odd to me in a workplace setting. Instead, use the emoji board in your email client to avoid any confusion.
That’s it, friends! I hope you learned a thing or two. Emails are important in the workplace because they are used more so than phone calls nowadays. We all know how words can have a lasting affect. Keep that in mind the next time you open your workplace email client.