7 Tips for Creating Effective E-Mail Messages

    April 20, 2002

E-mail is quickly becoming the dominant form of communication in the workplace. However, because it allows speedy composition, less thought is given to the message than when pen and paper, or even a typewriter, was used in the office.

Poorly composed messages reflect poorly upon both you personally and you as the representative of your business. If you are moonlighting with your own business, a poor first impression, even from something as innocent as an e-mail message, can kill your chances of winning that client.

Fortunately, there a few things you can do to ensure that your e-mail message is both professional and effective.

1. Let It Simmer: Never send a message as soon as you are finished typing it. Do something else for at least ten minute — let it sit overnight, if possible — then come back and reread and edit the message. Looking at it again with a “fresh eye”, you will be more likely spot errors.

2. Read It Aloud: Reading your message aloud allows you to catch more subtle errors, such as awkward phrasing and sounds.

3. Read Slowly, or even one word at a time: This will help you catch double-keyed words and habitual misspellings (for example, I frequently leave off the “r” in “your”)

4. Clean Up Your Language. Always assume that every e-mail, no matter how confidential, will be forwarded, and eventually land on yours boss’s desk!

Strike any off-color, sexist, profane, or otherwise objectionable language.

5. Cut Unnecessary Words and Phrases (or fluff) Replace phrases such as “In the event that we …” with “If we …”.

6. Give clichs the ax.

7. Run the Spellchecker … … but remember that a spellchecker will not catch words that are spelled correctly, but used incorrectly, such as the use of “your” instead of you’re”.

Follow these tips and you’ll consistently produce effective emails of a professional nature.

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