Have you ever received an email that left you feeling uneasy all day long? Perhaps it was pushy, demanding, abrupt or so long you couldn’t bear reading it.
Research shows that 64% of emails in the workplace cause tension, confusion and negative consequences. Being in the health and fitness industry, that’s basically the opposite vibe we want to put out to our clients and staff members.
Don’t worry, there are a few simple things you can keep in mind to help your emails be clear, outcome driven and uplifting every time you put fingers to keyboard. This skill may not come naturally at first, but rest assured, it can be learned.
Is it necessary?
Before you write an email, ask yourself if it’s necessary to even write the email. Is the person nearby? Can you just walk over and speak with them? Will you be seeing them in person and be able to talk through what you’re letting them know in person? Face to face or via telephone is always best. Email should be a back up plan. In the event you do have bad news or need to work through a sensitive subject, find a time to deliver that in person rather than via email.
Make the most of your subject line
An email should contain one main topic that can be explained clearly by the subject line. Just seeing the subject line will let the person you’re writing know what the email pertains to and prepare them to read it. If they can’t get to it right away, they’ll know what it’s about every time they scroll through their inbox.
An example of a poor subject line is “Meeting”. A better one would be “Can we meet 10am Friday afternoon?”
Always open with a greeting
You never want to just get into the subject of your email without addressing the person. The type of relationship you have with the person you’re writing will depend on the greeting you make. If you know someone on a more personal level, being more casual is appropriate. If it’s someone you’re not as close to, more formal greetings can be useful.
Some examples are “Hi Jenny”, “Good Morning Melanie”, “Dear Jonathan”, etc.
Set the context
You want to let the person know where the email is headed and where you’re coming from. It’s like presenting the big picture to them so the details you present later on make sense. Depending on the type of email, it can be a short sentence or even a paragraph.
If you’re replying to an email, acknowledge what the person has asked about in his or her email to you.
Here’s an example.
Next week I’ll be working with my first prenatal client. I’ve taken the workshop, but am a little nervous and hoping you could give me some additional guidance. You’ve worked with so many prenatal women – I feel you’re the studio specialist in this area.”
Be as clear and brief as possible
Make sure you’re writing information relevant to the topic you’re discussing. Remember, one subject per email. Don’t try to sneak something in, because it may get missed. Keep sentences short and to the point. Also consider the formatting. Limit each paragraph to one thought. In an email it’s easier to read one or two sentences per line rather than four to six, as in a paper letter.
Continuing with the example above: “Would you mind sharing some of your favorite exercises and sequences on the Cadillac and Reformer?
What tone are you setting?
Feeling the tone of an email is like sensing someone’s body language. When arms are crossed, it often sets a protective, uncooperative tone. When arms are on the hips, this demonstrates strength. When you lean forward in a conversation it shows you’re interested in the person.
It’s similar in an email. Your choice of words, sentence length, punctuation and capitalization can easily be misinterpreted if you’re not careful. For example, writing an entire email in ALL CAPS can indicate that you’re shouting at a person. If you CAPITALIZE one word, it can demonstrate that it’s important or you want to be dramatic. If you know a person well and write a very formal email it can demonstrate discomfort or unease. If you write an email and simply complain or point out the negative side of things, this can leave the person with a negative feeling.
At the end of your email, ask yourself, have you used a positive tone? Have you thanked them (when appropriate)? Have you signed off in a friendly, appropriate way?
Check your work
Make sure to proofread your email before hitting send. Look out for spelling, grammar, punctuation mistakes, etc.
If this is not your forte and you’re sending an important email, ask someone to proofread it before you hit send.
Add the senders address at the end
It’s a good practice to write your email first, proof read and THEN add the email addresses to who you’ll be sending your email. It’s so easy to accidentally hit send before you’re done writing or editing. In many cases it won’t matter, but in some it can show lack of professionalism.