Writing email is an art. As much as an art as say, motivating a team member or negotiating a new contract. However, for so many of us, it’s only ever an afterthought. A forgotten skill that forms a huge part of our daily routine and yet rarely warrants dissecting and studying in the same way that others do. Let’s face it, most of us would be offended if we were sent on an email writing workshop, or worse still, received emails back from the boss full of annotations and edits.
However, this attitude can present its own set of problems. Poorly written emails can be confusing, misleading, or downright rude. Worse still, if you never master the art of email writing, you stand to waste huge amounts of time and energy in a never-ending tangle of threads, replies upon replies, or constantly restating your original point. But fear not, better email writing is not rocket science, and you can greatly improve your grasp on the art by following a few simple tips.
Here at Spike, we’re all about Conversational Email. We believe in real exchanges. Conversations that help you develop lasting relationships. Our real-time email messenger ditches the long and confusing threads, waves goodbye to the pointless headers and footers, and streamlines your everyday communications in the simplest of ways. We think that engaging email should be more like an instant message—short, to the point and bursting with personality. This doesn’t mean you can’t write formal emails, and you’ll find all the same functionality as you would in a traditional email client. However, Spike makes it easier to craft instant replies that look and feel personal. You can avoid scrolling through repeated email threads and get straight to the point. Put simply, conversational email messaging will help you build better collaborative partnerships and allow you to concentrate on being truly creative.
Write Fast, Edit Slow
By writing fast and remaining conversational, you’re able to more easily convey your personality. Particularly for short emails, quick compositions tend to get right to the point—just like instant messaging. For longer emails that require greater precision, writing quick and editing slow (the professional writer’s greatest trick) is the answer, allowing you to get your ideas down and then refine the details later.
Ask the Right Questions
Asking questions is great but asking the right questions is better. The right questions, polar questions, require a simple yes/no response; for example “should I complete task X?” Avoid A-not-A questions, those that suggest two alternatives; for example. “Should I complete task X or not?” While both of these constructions are considered polar questions, the first will elicit clear responses that leave no room for ambiguity.
Whether you’re firing off one sentence replies or composing long lists and paragraphs of text, remember to keep scannability in mind. Make paragraphs short, bullet list items, use bold or italics, and maybe even highlight important sections. All of these visual elements will help break up blocks of text and drive home your most important points. Remember, better email looks as good as the content it communicates.
Formulaic email writing is the death knell of true communication, and while using email templates might save a little time, it has its own fair share of problems. No one wants to receive the “Dear [Client]” email or see other generic placeholders that you’ve forgotten to fill. It leaves the recipient cold and makes your communications seem rushed and uninterested. Additionally, the language used within email templates will never engage your recipient in the same way a personalized email will. Take the time and craft your emails from the ground up to truly master the art of engaging email.
Today, there are literally thousands of effective email writing tips available on the Internet, and many come across as contradictory or just plain confusing. However, with these simple ideas, we think you can change the way you approach your daily communications and write truly engaging emails. Of course, we think that conventional email has had its day, and real-time email messenger is ready to usher in a whole new era of communication. Learn more with Spike and discover how email is improving modern communication.