Let’s face it — writing professional emails is a skill that must be practiced and honed, much like writing prose on parchment with a feather dipped in ink during the Renaissance. Whether you type multiple emails a day or do it once in a blue moon, writing effective business emails can help you and your work stand out.
How? Well-written emails can show great project management, leadership and communication skills. Once you’re known as an email-writing pro, you could be perceived as a trustworthy contributor who can handle larger, more complex projects. Plus, you’ll always be a pleasure to work with, making messages and objectives clearly understood and managed.
Ready to get started? Here are five of the top professional email writing tips.
1. Know Your Audience
While you may have background info and passion behind your project, your audience likely does not. If that's the case, try to keep jargon to a minimum and provide meaningful info that helps your audience follow along and stay engaged.
As you craft your email message, ask yourself:
- How could I explain this so a friend who works in an entirely different field would understand it?
- What is the most important thing the reader needs to know? (Pro tip: Put that info near the top!)
- Is there a due date the reader needs to keep in mind? (Pro tip: Highlight the date to make it stand out.)
2. Create an Attention-Grabbing Subject Line
Information overload is real. The subject line of your email could be the deciding factor in whether your email gets read, skimmed — or deleted without being opened. A subject line that speaks to your audience can help. Which of the headlines below would get you to open an email?
Headline 1: Five 401(k) changes that could impact your retirement?
Headline 2:Third-party vendor releases annual retirement plan updates?
Hopefully, you picked the first one!
3. Keep It Short
Attention spans are short and schedules are busy — making it more important than ever to keep your email short and to the point. How, exactly, do you do that? Keep these tips in mind:
- Tailor your message to your audience.
- Delete all unessential information.
- Link to background information instead of typing it into your main text.
- Take out fancy words or jargon.
- Say it once, say it clearly and move on.
- Use text formatting such as bold type and bulleted lists to draw attention to due dates and key points.
- Include only the details that matter to your audience. (People will reply to your message if they want more information or have questions.)
4. Choose Your Words Carefully
Words matter — especially when they’re in writing! It's important to keep in mind that while professional emails often relate to work, there are real people with real feelings behind that work! When crafting an email, consider what you would say if you were face-to-face with the person. If you wouldn't say it in a conversation, don't type it in an email.
For example, you wouldn’t want to tell someone in an email that you “hate” or “dislike” the work they did on a creative piece. Why? Because those words can feel personal. Instead, you could write that you had imagined the creative differently and provide a few details of what you had in mind.
Before hitting send, read your email to yourself through the lens of being the person receiving it. Could anything in your message be taken the wrong way?
5. Put in the Time
While emails are intended to feel a bit more casual than a formal paper or proposal, they should still be written with just as much care. Taking two or three minutes to proof and reread your email can make a big difference.
Slow down when writing professional emails. Think about your readers and what you want them to know — and do — after reading your message. Remember to keep the "so what?" near the top, not buried in the message. If you're not sure your message is clear or projects the right tone, ask a trusted coworker to give it a read and offer feedback before hitting "Send."
The 5 Keys to Writing Professional Emails
- Know Your Audience
- Create an Attention-Grabbing Subject Line
- Keep It Short
- Choose Your Words Carefully
- Put in the Time
And there you have it! Keep these tips in mind and you'll be surprised to find how much more enjoyable and less stressful writing professional emails can be.
Looking for more tips to reach your career aspirations? Check out our career hub for advice from the pros and helpful articles to take your professional goals to the next level