The Do’s and Don’ts to Remember When Writing a Professional Email
Oh, the world of professional email communication. It can be hard to navigate with various expectations across industries, age groups and cultures. However, there are a few non-negotiables when it comes to any type of professional communication, whether it’s with your co-worker, client or the CEO.
Below, we’ve put together a list of do’s and don’ts to follow when you’re writing your next work email.
This one should be obvious, but I feel it’s important to include anyway. Regardless of what type of communication it is, review your writing for errors before you send it. It’s such an easy thing to do to ensure you are coming across how you intend to. Plus, there are various tools you can leverage that essentially do this for you.
Grammarly is a great one, and you can install it on your browser and email. Word processors and email services also have their own native spell checks so please use them. However, don’t solely rely on them. We’ve all made errors that autocorrect or spell check failed to catch that a simple proofread would have avoided.
Use active voice
Passive voice isn’t inherently wrong, however in a professional context using active voice can help you come across as confident and authoritative. It sends a strong, clear message, so, why not use it?
A quick refresher: Active voice is when a subject acts on the verb, whereas passive voice is when the subject receives the action. Therefore, it’s easy to turn a sentence written in passive voice into active voice.
Get to the point
In the same vein of sending a strong, clear message, don’t be too wordy. While a quick introduction or greeting is customary and necessary, after that, say what you want to say. We all get too many emails, so telling the person what you need in a succinct, polite way will be much appreciated. Save the small talk for in-person communication.
Follow up too much
Sending a second (or third) email is customary when you’re waiting on a response from someone. As previously stated, we all get a lot of emails so they can slip through the cracks. However, bombarding someone with follow-up messages can turn someone off from ever responding at all.
If you need something urgently from someone, make sure you outline that in your initial email and indicate when you will follow up if you haven’t heard back. Then, stick to that schedule. If they still haven’t responded and it’s a co-worker or client, either send another email or pick up the phone. But, if it’s someone you don’t know or haven’t worked closely with, give it a few days or a week. Then, send one final email, but leave it at that.
Follow-ups can be appreciated when someone is busy, but too many are just that...too many.
Include people who don’t need to be
If I haven’t said it enough, we all get too many emails these days. So when you’re sending one to a group of people, really consider who needs to be on it. The same goes for meeting invites. And if you’re unsure, ask your manager, or even the person in question. They’ll appreciate being able to opt-in versus being on a long email chain about something they aren’t involved in.
Use unnecessary words
In our everyday speech, we all include “fluff” words, words that don’t really need to be there. However, while I’m a big advocate for writing how you speak, remove these unnecessary words from your email. Think: Just, like, sorry, etc. They tend to diminish your professional image and make you sound less authoritative.
Most of us write emails on a daily basis, so start to incorporate a few of these rules and before you know it, your professional communication will be top notch.