top of page

How to write better emails.

Inboxes are chaotic, crowded places, so it's not always easy to cut through the noise and get your emails right, but with a few simple tips, it's easy to improve your emails.


The first email might have been sent a million years ago - ok, well, 1971 - but they didn't really become commonplace until the 90s, and over the last 30 years, they have become the most powerful tool for communicating with customers, clients and colleagues. We send and receive more than 306.4 billion emails globally each day, so you would think we'd all be very good at writing them, but it's a part of our everyday lives that many of us struggle to do well.


Good writing and expert communication are not always easy to achieve. It takes time to formulate thoughts, think about what you want to say, and write a message that best conveys what you are trying to say.

Maybe you don't know what you want to say, maybe it came across badly, or maybe you wish you had never, ever pressed send - whatever your predicament, read on for tips on how you can improve your writing.


Keep It Simple


At school, my English teacher always said to us, "KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid." The phrase, attributed to Kelly Johnson, the lead engineer at aircraft manufacturer Lockheed Skunk Works, was about usability in product design but works for writing too. If your audience doesn't understand how a product works or what a piece of writing is trying to communicate, then it was all for nought.

According to a study from productivity software company Boomerang, emails written at the reading level of a nine year old were 36% more successful than those written at a college level. That doesn't mean you should dumb down what you have to say, particularly if you're discussing something complex, but it suggests that using more straightforward language and shorter sentences will result in a better response.


If you're unsure if you have kept your email simple, you can add your text to a Flesch Kincaid grade-level tool and find out what age your writing reads to – just Google to find a free platform.


Use 'Plain English' when composing your emails. Use language that is clear and concise, and use words that everyone commonly uses. Avoid euphemisms and get to the point.


Cut to the Chase


Nobody has time for a long and winding email with extra words and a point buried somewhere in the middle of a paragraph. Start your email with the most critical information and avoid being vague about what you're asking or the information you're sharing – don't sugarcoat your language.


If you're struggling with what to say, run through the Five W's and How: who, what, when, where, why and how. At least one of these questions posed or answered will do the trick. And in the interests of brevity, ask or answer no more than three questions in your email.


All the Feels


A robotic-sounding email won't make anyone feel like you're interested in what they have to say. Think about the person you are emailing and write to them like you're having a conversation, crafting your message to address their needs – that means answering their questions and putting them first. A tip for ensuring you're on track is to count how many personal pronouns there are in your message. If your email is heavy on using words like 'we' and 'I', you may not be as engaged with your reader as you should be.


Try to put a positive spin on things. Use words like pleased, opportunity, happy to, and thank you. Bypass words like can't, don't and won't and position any messages in the affirmative, for instance:

Negative: I'm pretty booked up tomorrow, so I can't do anything until after 3 pm.


Positive: I am available for a meeting any time after 3 pm.

Even in an email, your words matter. Language has the capacity to create emotions and set the tone. Every time you send an email, you define your relationship with the receiver, so make it a positive one. Use positive words and be polite – even in an email where you might have to deliver bad news or lay down the law, try to do it positively. Say everything with feeling.


Check yourself before you wreck yourself.


We all know emails and text messages have a bad habit of being taken the wrong way. If your email has simple and straightforward wording, conveys your message quickly and is as positive as possible (without giving anyone toothache from your sweetness), then there's only one more thing to do – and it's the most important.


When you finish writing anything, revising it is the most important thing to do. Make sure your email is well-formatted and easy to read: short sentences, bullet points and on topic. Pay attention to grammar and spelling – if it's not immediately apparent when you read it back, a writing tool like Grammarly can help. Reflect on the tone of the email – don't be too friendly or too businesslike.


If you're unsure about any aspect of your email, take a break and then you can reread it. Often doing something else and returning to your email will ensure you don't send something you might regret later.

Writing is a skill, and like any skill, it requires practice. An email should be clear and concise but also convey warmth.


Want to get more advice on better writing? Subscribe here or follow me on the socials to get regular tips.



Commentaires


bottom of page