Have You Been Burying Your Email Ledes?

BY Jessica Helinski
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Emails are a convenient, easy way to keep in touch with clients and prospects, but emails also boost the chance of miscommunication. Often, professional emails aren’t given the careful attention needed. “We’ll spend hours polishing our LinkedIn profiles and revising our résumés, but hastily hit send on an unintelligible missive simply because we’re in a rush,” writes Shani Harmon in an article for Harvard Business Review.

This lack of attention to detail can really put a damper on your professional image and your company. Harmon has some tips to make sure that each email sent is free of common mistakes, like:

Too long. You might have a lot to say  but email is not the place to do so. Yes, context is critical but it’s easy to get carried away and provide an undigestable amount of information. Remember that the average adult attention span is eight seconds, so make sure you get to the point quickly.

A buried lede. Make sure emails are clear and readers are able to easily identify the purpose. “Despite our compulsive relationship with it, responding to email is not a sacred duty,” Harmon points out. “If you want your readers to digest your message, and perhaps even take action on it, make it easy for them to do so.”

She goes on to include best practices for emails and shares a few must-​do rules:

  • Write a subject line that clearly states the purpose of the message. Also, use a header (such as an action word) to help the reader understand the expected response.
  • Clearly state the request at the very beginning of the email. If the reader only glances at the preview pane, he or she will at least get an idea of the message’s essence.
  • Take the time to be nice. It will help your audience truly hear what you intended to say.

Remember, each and every email you send is a representation of you and your company. Protect your brand by avoiding sloppy common mistakes. Also, boost response rates by clearly giving readers the information needed.