5 basic tips to write effective emails

by Aug 16, 2015

 Why do so many of us get email writing so wrong?

[Tweet “We all think we write effective emails. But the chances are we probably don’t!”]


How to write effective emails

How to write effective emails

More than 204 million emails are sent every minute. It’s no wonder that people are overwhelmed by both ends of the process: sending and receiving. But research from SendMail Inc shows that for 64% there are downsides, resulting in “tension, confusion and resentment.”

That is a lot of tense and confused people!

Writing an email should be straightforward, yet so many people do not get and apply, even the most basic tenets. Many organisations offer few, if any, guidelines on how to write an efficient and clear email. There is a 50-50 chance of an email being misunderstood. 80% of us think we are being clear, when in fact only 44% are, according to the US Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

So if you want to send an email message which will be read and save time, you should find these basic tips helpful.  Now is the moment to become efficient and effective, and not confuse or even worse upset anyone!

Here are 5 tips to write effective emails:

Be direct

The opening sentence of your email should be the reason you are writing. Ask the main question and make the key point first. Don’t wait to introduce vital information at the end of a long winded email. The recipient may never read it.

A Good Subject Line

Your email should have a precise and accurate subject line. Never leave email subject lines blank. It wastes the recipient’s time and may send it direct to junk. They are also difficult to track later.

Be concise

With the human attention span on an increasing downward spiral, an effective mail should be short. Short sentences. Short paragraphs. It has been suggested that 200 words maximum is the longest effective length.

There is discussion about whether emails should contain the same introductions as a letter  – Dear xx. When in doubt it is recommended. With someone you have never written to before – without fail. Personally from someone I know well or if it is part of a long workplace email chain, I would not consider it rude to omit the usual salutations. But that is just me! I know some feel very differently.

Ladies, never ever, add an x (as in a kiss) to the end of your emails, unless it’s to your friends or family. In a professional setting that is just bizarre, especially if  incorporated into a standard email signature.  Your aim is to write an effective email and to be taken seriously as a professional.


[Tweet “There is no place in modern electronic communication for poor anything.”] Grammar, spelling or manners. Avoid text speak, capital letters, coloured and complex fonts that are difficult to read. More and more of us work from mobile devices where the possibility for lack of clarity has increased exponentially. Effective emails are proofed more than once.

There is a new trend to put a line in signatures from mobile phones about being “on the run and sent in haste.” This is very unprofessional. If your mobile phone is your main electronic business communication device, you need to master it. Your kids won’t care. Your clients will.

24 hour rule

Email communication has opened the flood gates for ill-considered and hasty, often angry responses which the sender regrets. [Tweet “A golden rule is if you feel your pulse raised – wait 24 hours”]. Once sent, a badly constructed or snippy email, sent out in seconds, can do untold damage and take literally hours to fix. Sometimes the damage is irreparable, especially if the circulation list has not been properly checked.

[Tweet “It really is a case of more haste, less speed. “]

What tips would you give for effective emails?

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