How To Write A Professional Email

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Emails are meant to make our lives easier, but with more and more communication taking place instantly online, its easy to become overwhelmed. Often, an overflowing inbox creates more noise, more confusion, more mistakes and as a result, more emails.

When it comes down to it, the easiest way to reduce the number of emails you get each day is to learn how to write a professional email. 

EMAIL FORMAT – BE PURPOSEFUL

Present information in a way that is clear, concise and inspires action. A logical format would include:

  • The proper greeting: know your audience and address them appropriately
  • Short and clear text in default size and colour: custom fonts, odd colours or sizes are not needed.
  • Brief paragraphs with appropriate in between space: keep it short and easy to read.
  • Scannable section headers (if needed). Most professional emails should have a single goal. If you have multiple, keep them separated and clearly labelled. 
  • Sign off with clear action points. Make sure everyone knows what’s expected of them from this email. 

USE A SUBJECT LINE THAT INSPIRES ACTION

Your email’s subject line serves two very specific purposes you need to be mindful of:

  1. States the purpose of the email. Why is this email being sent to me?
  2. Inspires a specific actionWhat does the sender want me to do?

When writing the subject line, you should keep it short and opt for clarity. Replace generic or vague subject lines like “reply needed” or “hello” with something more action focused like “Marketing plan sign-off needed by EOD Friday”

START THE BODY OF THE TEXT WITH THE MOST IMPORTANT THING (MIT)

Start your email with a short sentence or two that declares the purpose of the email and the action that is required. This ensures that the sender’s intentions are not lost within the text or misinterpreted by the reader. Example:

MIT: Final deadline for changes to the marketing plan are due Friday at 5 pm. All changes must be in the team Drive beforehand to be included.    

Before you get into the details, your recipient is aware of what’s expected of them and can start thinking that way as they read your email. 

PRESENT THE DETAILS

Only include the most important information tied to the purpose of the email.

  • Short: Keep messages to-the-point and clear. If additional background or information is needed try to link out to a resource or offer a time to meet.
  • Scannable: Use your email format to highlight different sections, clarify who needs to do what, and outline the flow of the email.
  • Actionable: Every email needs a CTA (call to action) or clear ask.

USE NATURAL LANGUAGE

Use language that everyone understands. Simple language inspires a response and builds connection. Whereas jargon is more likely to put up a wall between you and the email’s recipient. 

CLEARLY DEFINE ACTION POINTS WHEN EMAILING MULTIPLE PEOPLE

Every professional email should have a clear purpose and detail the next required steps.

  • Use the “@” symbol to call out specific people. For example, “@Jon, please send your edits on the marketing plan by end of day Friday.”
  • Reply just to the person who needs to take action. Remove the action item from the email chain and just ask the person who needs to do something. 
  • Use formatting like bold or italics. Respond in-line, but use different formatting to make the action item stand out.

PROFESSIONAL SIGN-OFF

End your email with a proper greeting and official sign-off, making sure it is suited the intended receipted. 

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Further Reading:

How To Overcome Your Fear Of Public Speaking

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