Writing Impressive Emails

Considering the avalanche of emails each of us receives on a daily basis (on average about 120), it is no wonder that we have become rather desensitized to its impact on our professional brand.

It seems we are prepared to spend hours polishing and adding to our LinkedIn profiles, revising and updating our résumés, tweeting on a regular basis, but hastily compose an often unintelligible missive simply because we are in too much of a hurry to check it carefully before we hit the send button.  When you include: “Sent from my device, please overlook typos,” it does not really make up for the poorly written communication.

You really need to consider how you are conveying your brand through your email messages. Because every email you send affects your professional reputation.

Here 4 common mistakes to avoid:

  1. Your emails are too long for easy digestion. No one has the time or inclination to read long missives, better to keep it short, sweet, and meaningful if you want it to be read and acted upon. Please remember that an adult’s attention span is only about 8 seconds, so be sure to make every moment count. Get to the point and do it quickly.
  1. There are too many people on the email. You need to ask yourself who really needs to receive this message. In many organizations, the overuse of the “Cc” reflects a political culture in which people try to cover their behinds by including too many people. Remember that each message you send adds to the inbox of everyone you have included, even your own when a recipient hits “reply all”. Try to be very selective when determining who actually needs to receive the message.
  1. Be sure the information is clear and concise. There is certainly a lot to be said for brevity, however, there is a big difference between being concise and being terse. Email communication does not allow you the luxury of seeing the person’s face when they read your message so you do not know how they interpreted it, if they need further information or even if they are somewhat insulted. If you are not completing your thoughts in a clear and insightful manner or being too terse, how will they be able to do as you wish?   If you find that you are ending up with a high volume of clarifying questions in response to your messages, you likely need to find a way to not only keep them brief but also clear and impactful.
  1. Be clear on exactly what you expect from this message. This again speaks to the clarity of the content so that the recipient is very clear on what sort of action you are expecting from them and exactly why you sent them the message. Make it easy for them to do what you want!

So when composing an email remember that you need to take adequate time to craft a meaningful and impactful message and I expect you will find that your outcomes will improve accordingly. It is always better to sacrifice quantity for quality.

So the next time you begin to write an email, follow these few simple rules:

  • Use a subject line that clearly states the purpose of the message. You will earn bonus points with your reader if you also include a header such as “action” or “inform” as that helps the reader to understand the expected response.
  • Offer a clearly stated request right at the beginning of your message in case your recipient fails to read beyond the preview pane. Then, at the very least you will increase the chances that the reader will understand the essence of your message.
  • Try bolding the names of anyone who has been assigned a particular task or asked a certain question in the body of the email to increase the likelihood of it getting the needed attention.
  • Be sure to take the time to be nice. This will help your audience to truly hear more precisely what you intended to say.

The next time you are in your email account, take look in your sent folder. Examine the style of your previous emails and then you will know how to adjust it to have more impact and positive results from future missives.


Sandy Chernoff
Sandy Chernoff
SANDY'S 30 years of didactic and clinical teaching in study clubs and continuing dental education, coupled with her almost 40 years of Dental Hygiene practice bring a wealth of experience to her interactive soft skills workshops. With her education background she easily customizes interactive sessions to suit the specific needs of her clients. Her energetic and humorous presentation style has entertained and informed audiences from Victoria to New York City. Sandy’s client list includes law firms, teaching institutions, volunteer and professional organizations and conferences, businesses, and individuals. Her newest project is turning her live workshops into e-learning programs using an LMS platform. Her teaching and education background have helped her to produce meaningful and somewhat interactive courses for the learners wanting the convenience of e-learning options. As the author of 5 Secrets to Effective Communication, Sandy has demonstrated her ability to demystify the complexities of communication so that the reader can learn better strategies and approaches which will greatly improve their communication skills and ultimately reduce conflict, resentment, disappointment, complaining, and confusion. As a result, the reader will be able to increase productivity, efficiency and creativity, improve all the relationships in their lives and ultimately enjoy a happier, healthier existence! Sandy blogs regularly on her two websites on the various soft skills topics that are featured in her workshops and e-learning programs.

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  1. Hi Chris,
    Well, that certainly shows that you have a sense of fun and humor! It has been said that if you want to catch someone’s attention, adding a PS is a good way to do it!
    I love quotes so I like that idea very much, thanks for sharing!!

  2. The strongest response I ever had on my emails was when I added something interesting at the end. Sometimes it was a quote. Sometimes it was about the new movie coming out. It was something to show that a person was sending the email.

    In 2002, I received a 100% call back with all my emails and voice mails when I ended them on “are you a fan of the Spider-man? The movie is coming out today.”