- Turn off your email alert
Don’t let email take over your life. When you have an important project to work on, switch off your instant messaging system. Many people are now realising the value of doing this in being able to focus better, and some are checking mail just twice or three times a day.
- Respond to messages promptly
Once you have read an email, it’s common courtesy to reply promptly. If you are pushed for time and cannot reply immediately, don’t feel compelled to do so. This will only result in a rushed message, perhaps mistakes, and it may not be as detailed or effective as it could be. Instead send a quick note saying you will get back to the writer soon with a more considered response. This way the writer knows you have received the message and are dealing with it.
- Think carefully about your subject heading
This should give the recipient a good idea of the contents of the message and will make for easier handling and filing. Don’t use subject lines like ‘Enquiry’ or ‘Help needed’. These are less than useless and may not be read by a busy person scanning the subject lines quickly.
- Keep caps lock off
Capitals are difficult to read, they INDICATE SHOUTING and can appear THREATENING! And also don’t use lots of exclamation marks!!!!! Also pls dont use lower case letters with abbreviations n acronyms. if u write in this way u r thot of as lazy and not businesslike!!!!!
- Get your greeting and closing right
Formality doesn’t read well in email. Replace formal salutations like ‘Dear Pat’ with informal ‘Hi Pat’ or even just ‘Pat’. Similarly, replace ‘Yours sincerely’ with ‘Best wishes’ or even ‘Cheers’. Try to avoid overuse of the very boring ‘Regards’, or worse still abbreviations like ‘Tnks & Rgs’! Think of something novel and different if you must. Here are some nice ones: Over to you, To your success, Cheery greetings, Your friend, Take care, Until next time, Take it easy, Smiles.
- Send a cc to those who need to know, not to everyone you know
If we are suffering from overflowing inboxes, how much of it is self-inflicted? Has it become too easy to send messages to lots of people just because you can? We must learn to use email more thoughtfully by recognising when we should and should not send messages. Do you really need to send all those cc, bcc and fwd copies? If you receive lots of messages that you don’t really need to see, tell the authors so that it doesn’t happen again.
- Check your message carefully and get it right first time
There’s no second chance with emails – once you hit ‘send’, it will be in the recipient’s mailbox within seconds!
- Do regular housekeeping
Delete or file your sent and read messages so as to keep your system fast and efficient. Do your filing and deleting regularly. Set up filters on your email system so that messages are automatically sent to different folders according to the sender and the subject matter.
- Take pride in your message
When composing on-screen, it is easy to allow sentences to become very long. Make an effort to keep sentences short and simple, and check your syntax. The more pride you take in your message composition, the more successful you will be in being understood and achieving the desired results.
- Don’t panic – you can always pick up the phone
Have you ever been involved in a prolonged email exchange that lasts for days? Wouldn’t it be better to pick up the phone? When you discuss something in person or on the telephone, you can get to the root of the issue much quicker and resolve any problems so much faster.
The content of this article is from the book ‘Model Business Letters, Emails and Other Business Documents (7th Edition)’ by Shirley Taylor.
Contributed by Pearson Hong Kong