10 Tips for Making the Most of Email

Email is a great communication tool, but it can also lead to misunderstandings and other problems. Some of my greatest communication fails have involved email – things like replying to all when I didn’t mean to, sending an email to the wrong person and responding in anger when someone sent me a snarky email. 

Here are 10 tips to make the most of your emails:

  • Use good subject lines. 

Use a good subject line to entice people to read your email, providing key information about the content. If you are forwarding or talking about a new topic on a chain, rewrite the subject line for clarity and to avoid confusion. 

  • Keep in mind that emails don’t relay tone. 

People may read your tone differently than what you intend. A good opening to your email can be helpful. Something like, “Hi Kim. I hope you had a great weekend. Just touching base on the project we talked about last week…” Sounds better than, “Where are you with that project?” right?

  • Don’t type in all caps. 

You’ve probably heard this before, but it makes people feel like you are yelling at them.  

  • Use headings, bullets and numbers. 

Use a heading, if appropriate, to break up the text and make it more readable. Use bullets or numbers instead of a long sentence with three or more items.

  • Don’t use email as a substitute for human interaction. 

Email has its place, but it doesn’t take the place of human interaction where you can share, ask questions, listen and get feedback. We’ve probably all dealt with the back-and-forth emails that could have been resolved much more rapidly had you just talked about it.

  • Emails shouldn’t be a dissertation. 

Have you ever received an email that went on for four to five pages? No one is going to read all that! Keep your emails short and concise, taking extra words out of your sentences where possible. 

  • Put the most important information first.

Have you noticed that people’s attention spans are short? Put the most important information first to make sure that it is read and include facts and explanations later in the message. 

  • Give them some personality. 

Use power words in your emails such as great, captivate, lead, excellent, appreciate, create, brainstorm, productive, collaborate, connect, happy and together. Emojis can be included, but don’t overdo it – and make them appropriate for the message. Have you ever gotten a message that seemed like a personal attack with a smiley face at the end? Adding that smiley face doesn’t make it okay!

  • Pause before you send a nastygram. 

We have all been there where we want to fire off a nastygram email, but don’t do it! It’s best to step away and regain your composure.

  • Make it personal.

Use their name in the email and show empathy where you can to make it more personal.


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