“Wut? I knows how to rite emails”…No, you don’t.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received an email that said something like “hey, can you send me that file we talked about yesterday about the new job we’re going to work on.”
Momma didn’t raise no mind reader. Also, I can’t remember what pants I wore yesterday so I’m not going to know what you’re talking about.
It’s really one simple rule: When you’re writing an email, write as if they’ve never heard of anything you’ve ever talked about.
Yes, I know, it sounds like you’re talking to a 5-year-old, but trust me, it works.
By over-communicating, you’re not only being a huge help to the person you’re talking to, but also making their job easier, and avoiding a lot of confusion and aggravation.
People are in a different headspace than you are. Respect it. They may be rushing, they have multiple jobs with you, or like me, they can’t find their pants. Speak to the specifics, use job numbers/titles or reference points.
For example, don’t tell them they have a typo on something you’re working on, let them know the document, paragraph, and at the numbered line of the paragraph. “There’s a typo on the client bio, 3rd paragraph, 3rd line, “Your working hard” should be “You’re working hard.”
Say Thank You
Courtesy is a must! Be gracious and give the benefit of the doubt to your team. Let them know that you respect the time and energy they’re putting into a project to help meet deadlines. Say thank you.
You may think you are being courteous, but sometimes our writing comes off as curt. A lot of times we write emails that sound like we’re just getting to the point. For example: “We need this by EOD” in person might sound upbeat when you’re talking to that person in-person. But over email, exclamation points and acronyms come off cold and demeaning, and may be perceived as “WE NEED THIS BY EOD!!!!” Again, you don’t know what headspace they are in. Assume that your recipient is getting your email at their most stressful time of day. You want your email to be a courteous request that gets to the point, tells them what you need, and shows your appreciation for their work.
A simple way to do this is to sign your emails with a nice “Thank you!” or “Thanks so much!”
Keep it Short
Keep it as short as you can (unlike this blog). Do not assume people will read the email thread, meaning the stuff from another email buried below with instructions, contact info, or logins. Most people only ready about 5-10 sentences then check out. Keep the important stuff at the top. Almost like a “Too Long Didn’t Read (TLDR)” section. Not everyone is nosey and wants to read the thread you had with Fred —as juicy as it may be.
When forwarding directions from another person, it’s best to copy and adjust the directions as if that person is not familiar with the job.
Repeat Contact Info
You probably have an email signature, but no one looks at that anymore, it’s like a local pest control commercial that you’ve seen a thousand times. Even if it’s there, someone will email you back asking for your phone number. So though you likely have your cell phone and email listed in your signature at the bottom, you should still add it when you write things like “I can be reached at…” Email signatures become invisible because we are used to seeing it.
BEFORE YOU SEND
Now you’re done with your email and about hit send, WAIT!!! Don’t rush the email, stop, take a minute and proof once for typos, grammar, and tone. Then read it again.
Yes, read it again. But read it from the viewpoint of the person receiving it, so you can see if you’re being a *choice word,* or playing nice.
The whole point of your email, as well when doing anything for a client, friend, or otherwise, is to make their job a little easier. It will pay huge dividends in the future, in client loyalty and longevity.
And by all means, NEVER USE ALL CAPS. It just comes off like an old man on the sidewalk, yelling at loud kids.
Best of luck!