“There are two kinds of writer: those that make you think, and those that make you wonder.” Brian Aldiss
It is astonishing how many emails ask the recipient to consider a product or idea, yet are riddled with errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling and sentence structure.
Sending a sloppy email communicates to the recipient that you are not professional. Your message is undermined, and you’ve lost before you’ve barely begun. The recipient makes the logical assumption that if you can’t (or won’t) take care with your written communication, it’s unlikely you will take care in other areas of your work.
Even basic things are often missed. Nothing says “I don’t care about you or your business” more than misspellings; especially the name of the recipient or their organization. Yet it happens…and it happens with appalling frequency.
Here’s a real-life example, sent to me by a business colleague:
This email is an excellent example of what happens when you hit “Send” before you have proofread your email. I count 5 glaring mistakes…can you spot them? (Answers at the end of this post…no peeking!)
This was the first contact between the sender and recipient. All the recipient had to judge the value of this offering was the writing. Do you suppose this was the first impression the sender was hoping for?
If you don’t care how you are perceived by the recipient, or really don’t want the recipient to take action, then by all means hit “Send” before you have reviewed your email. Or better yet, don’t even bother sending it at all. At least you won’t be making things worse.
On the other hand, there are some simple steps you can take to ensure you are putting your best foot forward:
- Treat every email as important. Make sure it accurately reflects you and what you are communicating.
- Know your Purpose for every email. What do you want the recipient to understand, do, and believe from your message?
- Organize your Message.
- State your Purpose.
- Provide Information.
- Describe Action Steps.
- Make a specific Request.
Here are the five problems I found in the above example:
- “Sales Leads” is inconsistently capitalized.
- The space between “email” and “snail” should be after the comma.
- “Just” implies that this isn’t important.
- The use of “guys” is informal, especially given the recipient is a woman.
- The last phrase should be a new sentence.
Next Time: The Myth of Efficiency
Today’s Fact Cetera
In Dutch, the @ sign is called “apestaart”; that’s “monkey’s tail” in English.