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9 Ways to Improve Your Email Communications

Email writing tipsE-mail is one of the most important ways to communicate nowadays. Even if our mailboxes are already flooded with e-mail, it is still a widely used communication tool because it’s easiness.

However, there are certain “rules” to remember, so that the communication is as effective as possible. By using these small tweaks in your messaging, you can communicate your message more efficiently.

1. Use To field sparingly

When there are multiple people in the e-mail conversation, limit the usage of TO field to consider only those persons (or person) who the topic really concerns. The rest of the people in the conversation can be set as CC in your message.

I have been in e-mail conversations where multiple people have been involved and also multiple people have been to TO field by the sender. This has wasted my time, because I had to understand first, to whom the message was meant for.

In fact, I had to ask from the sender, if I was required to take action. In many cases, I wasn’t.

2. Limit the usage of CC fields

You should limit the usage of CC fields too.

All of those people, who are not involved in the conversation or whose presence doesn’t add any value to that, should be left out.

3. Write first, edit later

To me, writing an e-mail message happens the same way as writing a blog post: I write first and edit it later.

After writing a message proofread it. Also, I try to find ways to cut out all the extra words/sentences that are not needed. That way the mail is not too long and just the essential information is included.

4. Make sure that you don’t ask unnecessary questions

It is important to make sure, that you don’t ask the same questions that are already answered in earlier e-mail communication.

I have to admit, this has happened to me many times before. I have been too busy to send a question by e-mail, without taking a better look at the earlier messages that the other party has sent.

Not only am I wasting my time by writing the e-mail, but so is the other person/persons, who have to explain the topic again and reply to my mail.

5. Use the markup effects only when necessary

I know that there are many people who can’t stand HTML effects in their mail messages. In fact, I’m not a big fan of HTML either – when it goes overboard.

However, I feel that using simple effects like bolding, bullets or colors (when using sparingly though) make the e-mail more readable and the message easier to understand.

6. Have a clear subject line

One of the important parts of your message is a subject line.

Subject tells the receiver about the message that is coming from you. That’s why you should be detailed enough of what your message is going to cover.

Naturally, a more relaxed style may work better in personal communications, but not necessarily in corporate e-mail, where the communication is more formal.

7. Pick up the phone

You should pick up the phone if you feel that the e-mail communication is not going anywhere.

Too many times I have been a part of very long discussions threads. Especially jumping in to the conversation in the middle of it is difficult and it took me quite a bit of time to understand, what the topic was all about.

In these cases, it is easier to pick up the phone and talk to the other person directly. Or if the issue is very complex, hook up a meeting with all the parties involved.

8. Don’t go overboard with attachments

If you have a huge attachment you want to send to the other person, upload it to an online storage site and mail the link to the receiver instead.

In fact, it may not be even possible to send big attachments because of the attachment size limits (especially in the corporate world), so you have to find other ways to deliver the attachments.

This way you are not filling up the correspondent’s e-mail box with a huge file, thus the mail sending and receiving happens faster, when you are just sending the link, but not the attachment itself.

9. Prioritize your e-mail messages sparingly

In certain e-mail clients (like Outlook), it is possible to use a red exclamation mark to mark the message as important one.
Although this is a great way to increase the attention on the receiver side, you may want to use this effect sparingly.

I rarely use it myself. However, when I do, it means that the issue is truly urgent and I need to have an answer to that question as quickly as possible.

On the other hand, if I would use it very frequently, people would start ignoring my messages (or take action much slower), because the power of urgency was saturated by overuse.

Conclusion

By using these simple tips, you can make your e-mail communication more effective. Since the amount of e-mails is growing all the time, you want to make sure that the messages you send are actually well-crafted and stand out from the crowd.

Your next tasks:

1. Put this blog post into action!

  • Go through this list of tips and see, what parts you could apply in your e-mail communication

2. Share your experiences and tips on the comment area:

  • What are your tips for effective e-mail communication?
  • What are your pain points when it comes to communicating through e-mail?

3. Spread the word:

  • I would appreciate it if you share this post on Twitter or on Facebook.
Timo Kiander