Ten Tips for Sending Email

We use email all day, everyday. But that doesn’t mean that we use it correctly or to its full potential. At some point we’ve all made that error of clicking “Reply all” instead of “Reply”. Improving the way we use email not only helps save us from embarrassing mistakes, it can make our jobs that much easier too.

By Alvah Parker

This week I was working by phone on a presentation with another coach. She wanted to see the description I had written of my presentation so I quickly sent it off to her in email or so I thought. When she didn’t receive it I checked my “Sent” file. Whoops! I clicked on the wrong person in my Outlook address book. Same first name but different last name! How embarrassing!

Here are some tips for writing email. If you are regularly sending off CVs or emailing clients, remember your email could end up in the wrong hands – so be careful!

  1. Compose carefully: Think about what you want to say before dashing off a message. Some people ramble on and on. Others, in their haste, are not clear. Ask yourself, Will the reader understand this?
  2. Be aware of the tone: Consider the tone of the email. Could someone misinterpret it? Never write an email when you are angry. Wait until you have settled down. If you are unsure, let someone else look at your response.
  3. Proofread: Be sure you have written what you meant to say. A misspelled word or some incorrect punctuation can change your meaning. Read the book Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss for more on this topic.
  4. Keep it private: Do not deliver private information via email. Most people know you should not send credit card information in email but one manager of a friend delivered his appraisal of her work in an email and it wasn’t complimentary! Remember email can be forwarded. Do not say anything that you don’t want the world to know!
  5. Keep corporate email corporate: Reread your email and assume your boss will be reading it. Email is not confidential and in a corporate setting the company has a right to read it. Use Yahoo! or Hotmail for personal email.
  6. Stop shouting: Don’t write in all capital letters. That is considered shouting on the internet.
  7. Check “To:” before you hit send: As my example at the top shows, it is so easy to put in the wrong address or hit “Reply all” when you meant to hit “Reply”. Avoid embarrassment.
  8. Use BCC not CC: If you are sending email to a group, keep the addresses of the group private by using BCC (blind carbon copy) rather than just CC (carbon copy). Don’t inadvertently give out someone else’s email. Some people want to keep their email addresses private because there is so much spam today, plus they don’t want to be open for viruses. Honour their wish by sending them a BCC email. This allows you to send to a list without revealing everyone on the list. They see only their own email address.
  9. Watch out for fonts, colours, bolding and italics: Don’t use unusual fonts, colours, bolding or italics. These don’t always translate the same way in different email systems and could show up as coding to some people.
  10. Include a subject: Be sure to put a subject in your email. Everyone today gets so much email. If you want to be sure that yours is read, include a compelling subject so the reader opens your mail.

Alvah Parker is a practice advisor and career coach as well as publisher of Parker’s Points, an email tip list, and Road to Success, an ezine. To subscribe, send her an email at join-roadtosuccess@go.netatlantic.com. Alvah’s website is www.asparker.com.

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