Email Etiquette – 3 Golden Rules

Have you ever completely screwed up a professional email? Yep.

Hit reply instead of forward and accidentally sent kisses to a client – guilty.

Missed a key word in an opening sentence and said, “I hope this email ___ you well” – happens more than I’d like it to.

And of course the classic, ‘please find the document attached,’ but not actually attached anything – repeat offender.

Whilst we’d like to think of ourselves as good communicators, there is something about the medium of email that could lead to some not-so-good consequences. After having a laugh about some #CommunicationFails we’ve all confessed to doing in the office, we made a list of the three golden rules of email etiquette.

We got pretty comprehensive … but more than anything it’s really just a friendly reminder. Whether you’re looking to kick some goals at work, impress a potential boss or land your dream job interview, each and every email you send needs to be on point.

1 // The message and your goal

Before you start to write your email, take a moment to think and reflect on what your message is, and jot down a few key points. Think about what your ultimate goal is in sending this email, and what you want to get out of it. It’s so easy to get caught up in your words and lose sight of what you are trying to say; this can be a helpful tool to keep you on track.

2 // Your audience 

Everyone has a different idea of what an email is and how it should be approached – some assume it’s quite informal, others believe the opposite. Because of this reason miscommunication can occur very easily. Take a moment to think about who your audience is. What is your relationship with them and what impression do you want to give? Put some thought into how they will interpret your message and strive to write in a way that will be most appealing to them.

3 // How to get your message across effectively 

Be clear, concise and to the point –

Avoid adding any extra noise that might confuse the reader or distract them from your message. Sentences should be short and the body of your email should be direct and informative. Remember this may be the first time your audience is learning about your topic. Try to put yourself in their shoes.

Be clear with your tone –

Your audience can’t read your body language, vocal tone or facial expression, which makes it really easy for them to misinterpret your message. With this, it’s extremely important to monitor the tone of your email and make sure you’re not coming off rude or aggressive. Being selective with words, punctuation and capitalisation can help ensure you get your point across effectively, without making a new enemy.

Formatting – 

It doesn’t matter how clear your message is – if your email isn’t formatted correctly, your message will end up lost in a sea of words and confusion. Remember the following:

> Subject line – this should grab their attention and summarise the email.

> Salutation – greet your reader (remember your audience here, should it be formal or informal?)

> Body – break this down and make it easy to follow. Try to avoid having big chunks of words.

> Signature – this helps your audience find information about you that they need – contact number, company, address – anything that might be helpful for them to follow up with.

> Font choice – don’t get too creative – keep it basic and medium sized. If you’ve copied something in, make sure it doesn’t have any hidden formatting by highlighting it and hitting the remove-formatting button.

Last but certainly not least – proofread! This may seem like a no brainer, but don’t get too cocky. We all know, this stuff happens – especially when we’re so sure you didn’t make a mistake. So … read it slowly, read it loud, read it silently, read it backwards, read it upside down, read it word for word. Read it.