In business communication email has long been a core tool. There is style and format to be followed while writing an email; in each form and in every situation a refined and well written email works wonders. A poorly written, unclear communication only causes confusion and problems that lead to a loss of time and productivity. Even worse, it can harm reputation of the sender and the organization he represents. Well written business communication is a skill that should be mastered at an early age. Always motive your young children to write applications and letters to their school authorities on their own for a bonafide letter, additional mark sheet, leave application, internship application, sick leave etc. It requires well written and legible handwritten notes. I have seen over my sixteen years experience as Professor and Director of B Schools, most students draft very clumsy applications without giving it a much thought, which gives poor impression of them.
For a business firm, communication in all forms such as memorandums, e-mails, marketing campaigns, customer service information, business plans, employee negotiations, performance appraisals, inter department memos and even the organization leaflets and information booklets speak volumes about its professionalism. In a job or business you spend most of the part of a day communicating with people through talking, writing, and negotiating. While technology advances have made written communication easier, most people have not updated their writing skills to keep pace with this instantaneous technological up-gradation. Communication today is sleeker and faster through emailing. But, the fact remains that drafting or writing skills still is very crucial for most people.
Is it fitting to send an email always? Before drafting an email, decide whether it is appropriate to send an email; if the subject matter is long, consider whether a face-to-face discussion or phone call would be better in the long run. An email might complicate the issue. Also, if the information to be sent is confidential, your email could be easily misconstrued. Don’t forget that your emails are a reflection of who you are. Imagine how others might interpret the tone of your message.
It is advisable not to send bad messages by email. It is always better to meet in person and give the bad message; wherein you can empathise and cheer up a person or console him.
Use crisp subject line: Though the subject line of an email acts like an off the cuff, yet it gives the first impression of the sender. The subject line should be specific, particularly if it’s referring to the date of a meeting or a deadline. It should not be single word or in acronym form such as “hi” “FYI” or “Yes” or “No” because it doesn’t convey what you need or when you need it. Be as specific as possible. Make sure that the recipient sees your subject line and understands that it’s an email that requires immediate attention.
Make good use of subject lines. The subject line helps the recipient to decide whether an email needs to be opened and how to respond. Email with a blank subject line is likely to get deleted, lost, or immediately infuriate the recipient, who is forced to open the email to figure out what it is all about.
Get the results you want: First of all, never over communicate by email. Keep your messages clear and crisp. Avoid writing long sentences and use simple words and phrases. Be brief, be to the point. Long and badly structured sentences confuse the reader. The length of your email is also important in determining how effective your message is going to be. Research has shown that people do not have the time or the tendency to go through long, monotonous emails. It is ideal to keep your emails as short as possible without eliminating necessary information. Avoid miscommunication by as far as possible. Keep your content clear and organised related to the context.
Salutation is always pleasant: Begin your email with a formal salutation, state the purpose of writing and provide a context to why you are writing. Use paragraphs each point; take fist point in first paragraph, second point in second paragraph so on. Maintain the verb tenses clear; if the email relates to a past event, use past verb tense, don’t jump to present and future. Close the email by stating the outcome you expect from your message and sign off with a polite greeting and your name.
Proofread: proofread your email twice or more times if required. It is always a good idea to think about what you want to write before you actually do so. It helps in adding clarity to your message. Organise your thoughts in a logical sequence before jotting them down. Don’t overdo your feelings, opinions and judgements. Last but not the least, people receive lot of emails daily, and it is stressful to check them all. So, before you begin writing an email, remember all of these points.
Confidentiality is questionable: Essentially, once you send a message, you lose control of both the email body and any attachments. Your email is at risk of being hacked depending upon the content in it. Banks and financial institutions these days, tell their customers never to trust an email disclosing or asking for confidential information. Even encrypted email doesn’t meet the security or corporate governance norms because you cannot track what happens to emailed content once you have sent it. It doesn’t remain inert, and can be passed from person to person freely, outside the business.