5 Techniques for Writing Powerful Emails

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About 90 percent of all business communication is done through email. And it’s important that your message is clear, concise, and gets your point across. By employing these five simple-to-use techniques, you’ll ensure that your email effectively communicates your message.

1. Put enough information in the subject line so the reader knows what it is about and can prioritize it appropriately.

For example:

Re: Meeting on Tuesday at 2

Re: Request for summer vacation

Re: Urgent: Questions about the Smith project


Re: [no subject]

Re: stuff

Re: information

Re: Re: meeting


2. Be concise, professional, and emotionally neutral.

All your readers will see are your words — they won’t hear your tone of voice or see your body language. What you may write as a joke or sarcasm may be interpreted poorly by your readers. Say what you need to say in as few words as possible. Use proper grammar and capitalization just as you would in a memo or business letter. Don’t type in all caps, as some people see this as yelling.

3. Do not put anything in an email that you wouldn’t be comfortable seeing on the front page of the newspaper in the morning.

You don’t know where email will go once you push the send button. The next person may forward it to the CEO, and it has your name on it. Also, mistakes have been made — you think you are sending a note to your coworker and instead it gets broadcast to the company. Don’t do it.

4. Don’t forward jokes or other types of “junk” mail, especially those that others might find offensive, no matter how funny you think they are.

Don’t forward jokes or messages that are unkind to others, such as jokes making fun of particular races, ethnicities, religions, or genders. Don’t forward messages of a sexual nature. Don’t forward messages of a religious nature, regardless of your personal beliefs or those of your coworkers. Remember you’re at work and these are not work-related items. Think of email as any other type of business communication. And remember, your email may be forwarded by others, and it will have your name and your company’s name on it.

5. Keep it simple.

Avoid using fancy fonts or clever backgrounds in your email, as not all email programs recognize these in the same way and your reader may just end up with indecipherable text. Also, these fancy extras make your email larger, and on some slower systems and older email packages it may take a long time to download and take up more space than the system can handle. Keep the text simple:

  • Use no more than two or three paragraphs.
  • Use no more than two or three sentences to a paragraph.
  • Don’t try to format with tabs or spaces to create a chart, because when the message is received the spaces won’t be the same.


Agree? Disagree? Add your insightful comments here.