Only You Can Prevent ‘Email Overwhelm’: Level-Up Your Business Email Skills

We thought email would be a dead technology by now, but it's not. So...

If there is one thing most people can agree on—it’s being overwhelmed by email. Whether you’re receiving emails that have nothing to do with you or emails that are poorly written, studies show emails are a source of frustration for many people.

(Image: iStock/AndreyPopov)

 

Here are some tips for improving your business email skills:

Try the 5-Sentence Email Format

 

Sixty-five percent is opened on a mobile device; nobody wants to read through an entire essay.

Consider:

  • A concise and direct subject line – “Meeting date changed,” “Quick question about your presentation,” “New order processing procedure to start  Jun 5” “Approval needed by Jan 1.”
  • Email greeting – Start all emails with a greeting such as hello, good morning, good afternoon, etc. Otherwise, your emails can come across as rude or demanding.
  • A pleasantry such as “Nice seeing you at the Town Hall.”
  • The reason for your email – Why are you writing this person (1-2 sentences)? What’s in it for them?
  • Call to action – Think about the needs of the recipient and the steps you need them to take. “I’ve attached the contract for your review. Can you provide feedback by Wednesday, Oct. 4?
  • Closing – “Let me know if you have any questions.”; “Looking forward to hearing from you.”; “Have a great day.”

Get to The Point

 

  • Use the active voice whenever possible Active voice sentences are more concise than passive voice. For instance:
  • Instead of: “Time sheets should be submitted by 1 pm. “Say, “Submit time sheets by 1 pm.”
  • Reduce wordiness and substitute these commonly used phrases:
    • “due to the fact” with “because”
    • “prior to” with “before”
    • “for the purpose of” with “for”
    • “in order to” with “to”
    • “give out” with “offer”
    • “find out” with “discover”
    • “make it clearer” with “clarify”

Avoid Including Too Many Details

 

  • Choose one topic and use subheadings, if needed.
  • Use a bulleted list to provide instructions or options for next steps.
  • Include additional information as an attachment to the email.
  • Make sure the email includes the right people and avoid reply all.