Top Ten Tips for... Effective Emails

Top Ten Tips for... Effective Emails

How effective are your emails? If you're not getting the responses you need, when you need them, perhaps it's time to improve your technique? Take a look at our Top Ten Tips for help and advice.

1. Is email appropriate?   

Before you start writing an email, decide whether that is the most appropriate way of communicating your message. Would a quick telephone call or face to face conversation be more effective and save time?

2. Quick to read means quick to reply 

Respect your reader’s time by writing brief, well-structured emails. They should be able to understand your point within a few lines. If you make an email quick and easy to read you will be more likely to get a quick and clear reply.

3. Structure your message 

Take time to create a structure for your email. There’s nothing like a dense wall of text to put readers off immediately. Make effective use of paragraphs, bullet points and section titles to break up the information; especially if you have a lot to say.

4. Make actions clear

If you need people to take action make sure your email lists the actions within the first paragraph. Make it clear who needs to do each action and when they need to do them by.

5. Make decisions easy

If you need a decision from someone, take the time and trouble to make it easy for them to reply. Write your email so they just need to respond with a yes/no answer or give them a choice of A, B or C options.

6. Make the most of subject lines

Subject lines are important. Like a newspaper headline, your subject line should grab your reader’s attention and encourage them to read on. Make it relevant, clear and concise.

7. Get in a PADI

You can use the PADI process to help you write clear, effective emails. P stands for Purpose, A is for Action required, D is for Documentation to support and I is for Informative subject line.

8. Keep people in the loop

If someone has an action, always remember to include them in the ‘To’ field. A lot of people manage their CC emails using a CC-divert rule. Make sure they spot any actions required of them by including their name in the ‘To’ field rather than ‘CC.’

9. Pay attention to detail

Email is a more informal way to communicate, but it still needs to look and sound professional. Use spell check and also carry out a manual proof read to catch any mistakes that are spelt correctly but not the right word (e.g. affect/effect; principal/principle). Read what you’ve written out loud to check that your tone is polite and appropriate.

10. Include action codes in your subject line

Action codes in the subject line can be very useful and save time. For example, [NRR] (No Reply Required) makes it clear the person doesn’t need to reply; [Y/N] indicates a yes/no question; [RB+] (Reply By) can be used to make it clear how quickly you need a reply; [AB+] (Action By) indicates how quickly the person needs to complete their action(s).

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