Writing Good E-mails At Work


General Advice

call out action items, names and due dates in bold and/or color and keep them up top
don’t over use formatting techniques because they may be seen as aggressive
stay away from red unless it’s super urgent
stay away from blue unless it’s a link
Separate each thought into its own paragraph/section and make use of lists whenever possible

Email Tone

Know your audience
– not just about standard etiquette: be aware of recipients personality and values
– ensure the right message is being communicated in the right way so that nothing is misconstrued or lost in translation
– adapt your tone as you get to know your clients/teams

Brevity vs. Detail

– Important to be efficient. Too short of a message may come off as rude/inadequate but too much detail may cause your reader to lose patience
Facts vs. Fluff
– Too many facts without fluff can cause the reader to feel disconnected but too much fluff could cause the message to be lost

Email Content

– each email should have a goal or intended outcome after its received
– important not only that this goal is clear to the recipient but also actionable
– content is directly relevant to the subject line
– focus on one point per email – don’t get tangled up with too many emails
– Ask direct questions to demonstrate you expect a reply
– Include a clear call to action before closure (“Please make sure to provide feedback by …)

Provide Accuracy and Evidence

– An email is a written record: exaggerated or untruthful information can be used against you.
– Always make sure to provide relevant evidence/examples
Reference a past email in the thread or shared document which reiterates your point
– always provide the WHY behind an idea and examples of how something has worked in the past
– Trying to get the client to make a quick decision? Provide them with yes/no options

Email Cadence 

– Consider your response time
      – Respond according to urgency, especially with clients
– A quick response is more likely to elicit a quick response back
Unable to respond right away? Send a quick email to acknowledge receipt and provide a timeframe for when you’ll reply
Less Urgent? Occasionally hold off on an immediate response ( or responses over the weekend) so client doesn’t view you as disposable at all times and take advantage
– Keep balanced for your own sake

Tips and Tricks

  1. Proofread 3X
  2. always gut check. Did you remember to hit “reply all”
  3. Wait to fill in the address line until after you have drafted and proofread the email to avoid accidentally hitting send too soon and to ensure you’ve included all/only appropriate recipients
  4. The time of day you send matters. Instead of sending EOD, leave an email in drafts and send it first thing in the AM

For Your Consideration

  1. There is always a chance your email will be forwarded
  2. Double check attachments and links
  3. Insert images/ objects for reference directly into the body of email (when space allows) so recipient isn’t required to open separate attachment or misses content entirely
  4. Email thread is getting too long confusing or diverging? Send a fresh email or hop on a call

Slack Etiquette 101

  1. Slack style is key: read through previous messages in a thread to get a sense for people’s communication style
  2. Emojis (in moderation) are okay. Slack is more conversational than email and emojis can better emphasize tone
  3. Keep messages concise and purposeful on public channels
  4. Be direct(@Someone) so questions/action items are not missed
  5. Did you know you can mention @here instead of @channel to grab the attention only of the people who are currently active in the channel? @channel is better for major announcements and emergencies.
  6. Keep chatter off of announcements. This is only for company wide info. Save fun/interesting topics and conversations for other channels

Email vs Slack vs Face To Face

– quick questions or announcements that have time sensitivity
– Call to action or reminders for specific groups
– Metier info, important documents and details to be kept on file (vs. searched through)
– Client related actions and follow-ups ( even if clients are on Slack)
Face-to-Face (phone,, hangouts, in person)
– Too much back and forth over slack/email, conversation gets heated or confusing
– Hash out important issues with better understanding of tone in an efficient way
Author: Madelyn Tavarez

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