Tips for Crafting Compelling Business Emails
Whether you’re an intern trying to impress your supervisor or a Managing Director at a top firm, the craft of writing professional emails is a timeless skill. It requires finding a delicate balance between being personalized, yet formal, concise, yet engaging. How individuals present themselves through the language used in their emails is just as important as the actual content in the email. While writing professional emails is a skill that comes more naturally to some than others, it develops with practice and can be made simpler with a few simple tricks.
Lengthy or vague emails, including unnecessary information or complicated sentence structures, are both less likely to be understood and less likely to be read. Stating a clear purpose in the subject line notifies the recipient that your email is not just another piece of spam and is worth reading. Citing the Adestra July 2012 Report, Business Insider noted that emails with personalized subject lines are up to 22.2 percent more likely to be opened. While a precise subject line is a great place to start, it is important not to bore your employees or supervisors with a long email that could achieve the same purpose in fewer words.
Emails that are overly anxious—which Business Insider warns against—convey a sense of stress and insecurity that is passed onto the email’s recipient. Being confident and specific sets a tone of authority and trustworthiness, which goes a long way given the prevalence of emails. Using simplicity in one’s sentence structure can also help convey a sense of confidence. In a recent Forbes article, Susan Adams discussed the importance of using active, rather than passive, verbs to “energize your prose” and a simple subject-verb-object sentence structure whenever possible. Particularly since email allows people to control the messages they want to convey, confidence is essential and helps make up for the occasional nerves during in-person, formal discussions.
Keep it formal without sacrificing personalization
While demonstrating formality is essential in business emails, this is not to say that emails cannot be personal. In fact, it seems more effective and natural to use one’s own style of writing rather than trying to sound intelligent. As Mignon Fogarty, creator of the “Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing” podcast, explained, big words make it appear as if people are “trying too hard.” In addition, Forbes reports that individuals should avoid the abuse of exclamation points and informal sign-offs, suggesting that they instead stick to sign-offs such as “Best” and “Regards.”
In summation, write with a purpose and stick to it, while maintaining clarity, personalization, and confidence. Of course, implementing these changes is easier said than done, but it is a change worth the time and effort.