Badly written and carelessly worded e-mails wreck work relationships and can cost a company immeasurable damage. The alarming thing is, we often don’t even know when our e-mails have been misunderstood and have caused that client to cancel an order, or that colleague to gossip about us behind our backs.
Here’s a quick checklist to see whether you can hit “send” without affecting your credibility…
- Does the letter reflect the sort of image I want to project? Have I used an appropriate tone?
- Have I used slang, inappropriate business jargon or sms-language, all of which make your business writing look shabby and unprofessional.
- Have I carefully planned what I want to achieve in my correspondence? Is it clear to the reader what he/she is supposed to do?
- Have I considered the reader, his/her attitudes and experiences in this matter, personality and opinions?
- Have I ensured that my words, language and tone speak in a way that will warm the reader to my correspondence rather than annoying or alienating him/her?
- Is the subject line, salutation and ending correct? Bad subject lines cause recipients to ignore or misplace e-mails, and inappropriate salutations and endings can offend your reader.
- Does the opening paragraph get to the point quickly, “hooking-in” the reader? People don’t have time to wade through waffle, and will overlook important information if it doesn’t jump out at them early on in an e-mail.
- Have I made instructions or requests clear, or are they hidden between sentences of information? If an e-mail has too many instructions or requests, the reader may miss some. Try to include only one instruction or request per e-mail if you want certain action.
- Did I have the reader’s needs in mind while writing? Can they see “What’s in it for them”?
- Do the points flow logically – are they easy to understand? Are there headings where necessary to guide the reader?
- Did I use short, simple sentences and paragraphs? Simple, concise and clear language is the only way to correspond. Write like a real, personable human being. Avoid words like “peruse”; thereby” and “advise” if you don’t want to alienate your reader. Don’t use three words when one would do, don’t repeat sentences, don’t use vague or ambiguous words, and don’t use jargon or words that don’t have clear meaning.
- Does it contain all the relevant information and details the reader needs? (ask how, what, where, when)
- Is the spelling, punctuation and sentence construction correct? Punctuation changes the meaning of words – consider the importance of a missing hyphen in the phrase “six weekly doses”, for instance.
- Is the grammar and language correct, or could it cause misunderstandings, or make you look like someone who should rather be packing boxes for a living. Check, check and re-check your e-mails – at least twice before you hit “send”.
Copyright: Copperline Consulting