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:
- 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 to the point, 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.
- 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.
- 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 are 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 more clear and impactful.
- 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 polite and respectful. 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 a 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.