10 Tips for Writing Emails : This article was written because this past week I have seen three examples of emails that were read by people other than the intended recipient. In one case an attorney published a whole email exchange between the attorney and an applicant for an associate position in her firm. It should have embarrassed them both and was the subject of a lot of web conversation. In the other two instances I received a group email that was intended for only one person to read. One was harmless but the other made some really derogatory comments about a class that a member of the group was planning to give. The member whose class it was said that she was shocked. So was I. The sender of the email made a public apology and said in her confusion she sent the email to the list that was intended for someone not on the list. How embarrassing for everyone!
- Avoid personal or private material– With the ease of a simple forward anything personal or private can be public very easily. If you don’t want it published all over the Internet don’t use email to send it.
- Make your message brief and to the point. Cover one topic per email. Email often gets skimmed. If it is too complicated to be concise then use the telephone with a follow up message or letter if necessary to have a paper trail.
- Make the subject clear as to the topic of the message. If you do not know the person you are emailing include the name of the person who told you to write in the subject. People often delete email from strangers so including a name of someone they know in the subject may save the email from being deleted.
- Do not write the email when you are angry. You may regret sending the email once you have calmed down. Again email can be made public easily. Is this how you want people to know you?
- Proof read your email. If you are a poor speller or someone who is not clear when you write, get someone to proof read your email. Poorly written emails can confuse the recipient and reflect badly on you.
- Include all your contact information on every email. If the recipient has a question about the email he/she might want to call you or check your website. In addition hijacking email addresses has become common. If you always have your contact information, then those in your address book who are used to getting email from you will know something is wrong when it is missing.
- Use short paragraphs and lots of white space. This makes your email easy to read.
- Send all related documents. If you are discussing a document in an email, send a copy of the document even if you have already sent it. Don’t assume the recipient has all the information he/she needs to act on your email. Send whatever is required with your email.
- Use care when emailing a group. Check the “TO” before you send it. Is this appropriate for the whole group or just one person?
- Fill in the “To:” last. If you have ever inadvertently sent out an unfinished email you will understand the reason for this last tip. You’ll want to be sure your email is perfect before you send it.
Alvah Parker is a Practice Advisor (The Attorneys’ Coach) and a Career Changers’ Coach as well as publisher of Parker’s Points, an email tip list and Road to Success, an ezine. Subscribe now to these free monthly publications at her website http://www.asparker.com and receive a values assessment as a gift.