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I don't know about you, but I send and receive hundreds of emails every day—at least, it feels that way! Emails to colleagues, clients, suppliers, friends, and family are all whizzing across the internet to and from my inbox all the time. Some are fun, some are serious, many are just "business as usual."
I can't help but notice that there are some emails that I love to handle and others that fill me with dread. And the worst thing? I don't write emails that look like the ones I love!!!
I love a direct but polite email. Short, sweet, and to the point with a clear request or call to action. On the other hand, the second I see an email with a huge block of text, lots of exclamation marks, or a sprinkling of emojis, I am immediately skeptical. I have to admit though, I am full of double standards! Those are the types of emails I sometimes write. Full of questions, flowery language, and the occasional exclamation mark (or five!!!!!).
So, I've made an effort to send more of the emails I love to receive and slow down the tide of emails I hate, especially in the business context (sorry BFF!). If you need to do the same, here are some quick tips that have worked for me so far.
Get to the point.
Cut out the fluff. Words like "just," "I think," "however," and almost anything you place before a comma that acts as a qualifier is worth reviewing and maybe hitting the backspace on. You may even find that by cutting out the superfluous information in your writing, it reads better and comes across as stronger and more confident. Win, right? It's especially good for those emails to clients, customers, and managers.
Cut out the "conversation."
OK, so you don't have to be a cold heartless b***h. Keep your version of "I hope you're well" or "take care out there"—whatever works for you, but lose the rest of the "water cooler" chat. That means references to weekends, Netflix, and sports are generally out for me unless it's really necessary. It might be something else for you... Either way, in the context of a work email, get rid of it. If you're really curious about someone's weekend, opinion on the latest blockbuster, or brunch advice for the weekend, then drop by and ask them! You'll be surprised by what some face-to-face time can do for your relationships.
Did you know you can hyperlink out to other places and documents in most email clients? That means you can direct people to the website, document, presentation, or whatever you're trying to describe (or the directions for how to find it!) and cut down on all the words about it. If you're super clever you can even hyperlink to anchored content, so a paragraph within a document or something below the fold on a webpage. Just make sure you're hyperlinking the right thing and not pictures of your baby, cat... or worse.
Keep it brief with bullet points.
Bullet points should be quick and easily digestible and therefore they force you (and me) to be clear and concise with your writing. These are good for the likes of:
- Action Points
- Showing Options
- Key Considerations
So there you have it: four quick and easy tips that you can start using in your emails straight away. Let me know how you get on and if you nail one or more of these tips. Or, if you have any tips for me! I'm certainly still practicing the art of a better email! Good luck.