We’ve all heard the Bill Gates quote “Content is King.” But let’s continue the analogy further. You want your email content to be direct, to the point, and strong like any good king. But you also want it to be courteous, or else, like a boorish king, you may find your head on the chopping block. So let’s talk about the body of your email and some tips to make your emails stand out and facilitate quick responses.
Less is more. State the purpose of the email in the first two sentences, then write more detail after. Write concisely and use a lot of white space so that you do not overwhelm your recipient(s). If your email looks like a burden to read, generally it will get ignored.
Email like you would play chess, one move at a time. The email you send should be one “move” on your part. It should stick to one unified theme and if needed prompt the recipient(s) to move as well. Once they respond, make your next move. If you fill your email with too many moves then the other person(s) will be overwhelmed and possibly not respond.
TIP: Keep tabs on your tone. Read your email out loud to determine if it sounds curt or rude. Keep in mind that tone is very difficult to convey without being able to read voice inflection and body language.
Hush your inner gossip. Nothing in an email is truly confidential unless you have everything locked down and encryption up the wazoo. Never write something in an email that you wouldn’t want everyone to see. Write as if you know your company's emails will be hacked tomorrow. It’s also deceptively easy to respond to the wrong message or accidentally forward a message.
Don’t overuse exclamation marks! Try to challenge yourself and limit it to one per email. And while we are on this subject, DON'T YELL AT PEOPLE WITH ALL CAPS. See, it seems aggressive, doesn’t it?
Use the active voice. I personally struggle with this. To illustrate the difference, look at these two sentences: A: The Joker kicked Batman. B: Batman was kicked by the Joker. In sentence A, the Joker performs the action. When the subject performs the verb's action, that sentence is in the active voice. Whereas with sentence B, the Joker is acted on by the verb (passive voice). You can identify a sentence that is written in the passive voice by looking for a conjugated form of to be (was, are, were, etc.) Using the active voice in your emails will help you convey a strong, clear tone.
Thanks for reading! Now go out there and write emails that rule! Get it? Like a King…