What’s the worst thing about your day at the office? I’m going to have a guess and suggest it’s your inbox.
Am I right? It might not even be the number of emails that’s the problem, but rather, the overly-wordy, wandering-without-direction writing style of so many email writers.
For whatever reason, most people write way too much in their emails. Some think it’s rude to be brief and direct (it’s not) and others think being long-winded makes them sound like an expert (it doesn’t).
Long, wordy emails are the worst thing about work. They’re a wasteful use of the writer’s time and major drain on the reader’s time.
While we can’t eliminate emails from our lives, we can make them easier to read. How? With better business writing skills.
Here are five winning email writing tips.
- Get straight to the point. Make your subject line an intuitive introduction and launch straight in with your update, proposal, or request.
- Use shorter sentences and structure your email with short paragraphs. Eight words to a sentence is easy on the eye. An average of 16 words is a sensible goal. More than 30 words is the no-go zone.
- Use a numbered or bulleted list to further aid reading and comprehension. White space in emails is especially good for scanning content quickly.
- Close decisively. If you want something, state what it is and the due date. Don’t be tempted into a longer email trail with vague questions like, ‘do you think you could have the xyz by next week?’. That’s a fail mail. The decisive close would read, ‘Please present xyz at our next meeting on Wednesday 29 August’.
- Re-read your email before hitting send. Clean up any typos and delete unnecessary waffle words like, ‘at this point in time’ or ‘at the end of the day’. Is there a clear point to your email? Can you simplify it further? Good.
Follow these tips and you’ll be renowned at work for the clarity of your emails. If your colleagues don’t catch on, flick them this post. Or call Action Words in for a one-day writing workshop that will make everyone a better business writer.
Better business writing training is totally achievable and cost effective. It will save the day – and your sanity.