In today’s corporate environment, the way we write becomes a reflection of who we are. This article discusses three habits of professional writers that anyone can incorporate into their daily practice in order to write better emails.
Make it a Habit to Write Better Emails with These Three Tips
For managers and individual contributors at all levels of large corporate organizations, the ability to communicate clearly in written form is critical to success. This is true across all departments. From operational units to legal and human resources, lack of writing skills is perhaps the one deficiency that can stand out the most to coworkers, colleagues, clients and customers.
Most people in corporate and non-profit positions send numerous emails on a daily basis. In fact, there is a good chance that your sole form of communication with certain co-workers and outside parties is via email. In these relationships, your writing style, tone and ability become a reflection of who you are, and they become a direct representation of the company or organization by which you are employed.
All of this boils down to one simple conclusion: The quality of your emails matters. If you think you may have room for improvement, here are three habits you can form in order to write better emails:
3 Ways to Improve Your Emails (and Other Business Communications)
1. Avoid Redundancy.
If you say the same thing over and over again, or if you use the same words over and over again, people will notice, and they will think to themselves, “Another email from [your name here]? [Your name here] always says the same thing over and over again.”
Hopefully that was an obvious example of how not to write a quality business communication. Redundancy is annoying to most readers on a number of levels, and it is a writing flaw that can easily be avoided with a little bit of effort and critical thinking.
There are two ways that an email can be redundant:
- It can use the same words repeatedly, or
- It can contain duplicate (or triplicate) content.
You want to avoid both forms, and doing so gets us to our second tip…
2. Actually Proofread (Don’t Just Use Spell Check).
In the rush of a busy day, proofreading may seem like a waste of time. It isn’t. It doesn’t take long to proofread an email, and reviewing what you’ve written before you hit “Send” can save you potential embarrassment (or worse) – while also showing respect to your email’s recipient. Have you noticed that some people consistently send well-written emails? It stands out, and it’s because they proofread.
Proofreading means doing more than running an automatic spell check. In addition to the fact that spell checkers are not 100 percent accurate and most applications’ grammar “corrections” are not always correct, you want to look for more than just spelling and grammar errors. In a nutshell, you want to look for anything that might stand out in a negative way to your reader. Do you use the same word repeatedly? If so, revise to vary your word choice (but don’t just go crazy with a thesaurus—make sure you know what you’re saying). If you say the same thing more than once, as people tend to do when writing off the cuff, cut out unnecessary sentences and paragraphs so that you are not wasting your reader’s time.
3. Think from the Reader’s Perspective.
Another way to significantly improve your business communications and write better emails is to put yourself in your reader’s shoes. Once you have a draft, review what you’ve written from his or her perspective. Will your email’s recipient be able to follow your train of thought? Do you have certain specialized or inside knowledge that he or she does not? Is your reader up to speed on the issue at hand, or is he or she playing catchup? Something that makes perfect sense to you could be difficult (or impossible) for someone else to follow if they lack your perspective. As a result, you need to try to write from theirs.
Inquire about a Corporate or Non-Profit Writing Training Program
As a former in-house corporate attorney for a publicly-traded company, I am all too familiar with the pitfalls of poor-quality emails. If employees within your organization have room for improvement when it comes to their written communications, some training may be in order. To inquire about a corporate or non-profit writing seminar or intensive training program anywhere in the United States, please get in touch with me online today.