One of the most enjoyable parts of my work is helping people improve their writing skills. When I began my career, business writing consisted of letters, memos, reports, and proposals. Somewhere along the line, writing skills became less important…or so it seemed.
Then in the early 1990s, email provided a useful way to connect with customers, co-workers, and just about everyone else. Today it is the predominant form of business communication, and as such, is the most common form of business writing. According to the Radicati Group, 205 billion emails were sent in 2015, with an average of 122 business emails sent and received each day.
Given this, it is shocking how little care many business people put into the messages they send. Every email is a written reflection of who you are, what you do, and how you do it. Like it or not, your recipients make judgments about you based on your writing. Visit your “Sent” folder, and review your emails: is that how you want clients and colleagues to see you?
If an email is your first contact with a sales prospect, that message is the first impression you will make. If you’re not putting your best foot forward, you’re risking the chance to create a new client.
Even the simplest of emails can benefit from more effective writing. Taking a little extra time to create a clear and compelling email can pay off in less misunderstanding, better response, and more results.
I have had the opportunity to work with hundreds of business people, and in examining their emails—as well as thousands that I have received—I see the same mistakes repeated over and over. Each one can cause irreparable harm to the sender’s credibility, significantly reducing the chances of a successful communication effort.
The five most common email mistakes are:
- Premature Sending
- False Efficiency
- Burying the Lead
- Not Taking Out the Garbage
- Ending on a Low Note
I’ll be examining each of these in future posts, along with what you can do to avoid them in your own emails.
Today’s Fact Cetera
The first network email was sent by Ray Tomlinson in late 1971.