Effective Email Communication

effective email communication

Effective Email Communication

By Sherri Knipp

Email is an essential part of the work world today especially in remote work environments. There are many tools available to improve communication efficiency in the workplace, but email is the generally accepted mode of communication and still plays an important role. The average worker receives 50-75 emails a day and managing those emails often becomes a daunting task. To meet customer expectations and stay on top of your mailbox, it is important to develop an email communication style and routine for managing your Inbox.  As you are crafting your emails, keep the following in mind:

Managing Your Inbox Effectively

Keeping your Inbox organized is key to effectively managing your mail rather than having it manage you.  It is easy to become overwhelmed with the number of emails that accumulate in your Inbox causing you to lose track of important emails and can also cause you to miss important follow ups.  Here are a few tips to effectively manage your Inbox:

  • Check email regularly
  • Set aside time to respond in batches to emails that are less urgent
  • Do your best to prevent checking your email from keeping you from doing important tasks.
  • When replying to emails, try to abide by the 2-minute rule. If you can’t craft a response in 2 minutes or less and the email isn’t urgent, flag the email to respond when you have more time to focus on the response and move on to the rest of your emails.
  • Organize email by things you need to respond to (questions, invitations, action items) or emails that are strictly informational (reminders, newsletters, etc.)
  • Add labels and folders to keep similar messages together.
  • Once you have dealt with an email, it’s best to move the email to a folder or archive so that they don’t clutter your Inbox. Doing this allows you to keep track of what is really important.

 

Writing Emails that Get Read

People receive more and more emails every day and lots of emails are discarded before they are even opened or fully read. You can make sure your emails are opened and read by keeping them focused, organized and to the point. Email subject lines are a readers first impression of a message and a good subject line uses specific key words that describe what is in your message. Because readers tend to be most attentive at the beginning of an email, state the purpose of the email at the beginning of the email body since it will be the first thing they will read. It should capture their attention and give them a reason to continue reading along with expectations of what is to come. Keep paragraphs short and add line breaks in between.  If your email is more than few sentences, briefly summarize what you said along with any action items at the end. If you expect a response, be clear on what kind of response you expect and a timeframe for it.  Emails are intended to communicate a message so the easier you make it for the recipient to figure out what you need the sooner they will read and respond.

 

Email Etiquette for Using To, CC and BCC

Understanding the best situations to use To, CC and BCC when replying to emails will help to provide clear direction to recipients.  When an email directly affects someone or you want them to reply, you should put their email address in the “To” line. You can include multiple addresses if you’re writing an email that directly affects more than one person.  When you want recipients to be aware but don’t necessarily expect a reply, then you should add the email address to the “CC” line. People CC’d will also receive a reply all from others.  When you don’t want the email addresses visible to other recipients, the email address should be added to the “BCC” line.  If you BCC everyone then the recipients can only reply to you.

 

When to Use Reply, Reply All and Forward

When taking action on an email, be sure to consider the recipients. Make sure it’s going to the right person.  Always look at the recipient list to ensure that only the people who need to be copied on a message receive your reply. If your response only concerns the original sender then just use “Reply”.  Use “Reply All” if the response is relevant to everyone in the thread.  If your response only pertains to certain people then reply all and remove the email addresses of those that the response doesn’t apply to.  When you want someone else to weigh in on discussion that is not on the original recipient list, add them to the To field and then type +with the name of the person at the beginning of the response so that everyone can see that a new person has been added.  If the discussion has wrapped up and you would like to get the opinion of an outside person, forward a copy of the email so that they can weigh in. Add an explanation on why you are forwarding the email even if it’s obvious.  Using these tips makes it easier for everyone to respond and make the conversation flow easier

 

Decide Whether to Use Email or Another Form of Communication

Email is an easy default method of communication but it’s not a perfect channel for every message. Email excels as a tool for messages that are short and not highly time sensitive. Email is also a good method used to reach people that can’t be contacted by phone. But there are times when email may not be the best communication method.  For instance, if you’re discussing a confidential matter it should be handled offline rather than via email. Emails can be quickly forwarded and exerts taken out of context. Avoid email for emotionally charged conversations. Make sure that sending an email is the best form of communication for your message and if it’s not then find another option.

 Proofread and Spell Check

Always be sure to proofread your email before sending.  Regardless of your grammatical skills, it is still very easy to make typos.  Most apps have a built in spell checker that can highlight spelling and grammatical errors.  You should also consider reading the email back a few times.  This can help you understand how your email will be received.

Following these simple steps can help you stay on top of your email game and help to ensure that your emails are getting read!

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