When was the last time you wrote a letter? We’re talking pen and paper, with a stamp and an address label. If you’re like most people, it’s been a long time, especially if you don’t count that “Thank You” card from your last birthday. On the other hand, when was the last time you wrote an email? Odds are, you’ve already sent a few (if not several) today.
When you write an email, do you make sure that it’s the best that it can be? It doesn’t matter if you’re sending your significant other an addition to the “Honey-do” list, or updating your boss on the status of your latest project – you should make sure that you’re always following these protocol when you put your fingers to the keyboard.
Be Brief and Get to the Point.
You’re writing an email, not a novel. You’re writing for a reason, and email etiquette says that it’s acceptable to jump right in. So don’t waste your time (and the time of your recipient) with a long introduction and pleasantries. Get to the point, and then sign off – it will be better for everyone involved, and make the communication process quicker.
Reread Before Hitting “Send.”
Now that you’ve written a nice, short email, it should be easy to reread it and make sure that it is going to get your point across, and convey the right tone to your recipient. You can also double check that you used the right homophones. You don’t want to look ignorant in an email to a colleague because you used 'their' instead of 'they’re,' or something similar.
Put in the Recipient’s Address Last.
This may seem a little strange, but it’s advisable to put in your recipient’s email address last if you want to work on writing better emails. Most people follow conventional methods and put this information in first, followed by the subject and the body of the email. In fact, you should do these in reverse email. Write the email (and proofread it), then put in a title. When you’re happy with both of those fields, you can address the email – this way you can’t accidentally send an email before it's 100% ready to go.
Bonus: Reply Quickly.
Email is meant to be a quick way to communicate with others. While it isn’t specifically a tip on how to write a better email, we suggest that you use the zero-inbox method, making sure that you never let an email sit in your inbox for more than a few hours – or a full day at the very most.
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Photo credit: Jonathon Narvey / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)