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    Women Business Leaders: 10 Ways to Write Better E-Mails

    Women Business Leaders: 10 Ways to Write Better E-Mails

    As women, I think we are naturally great communicators. And, I admit, I love writing e-mails. However, for women business leaders to maintain a professional image, taking control of our e-mail conversations and finding more effective ways to use e-mail is important. If used correctly, e-mails can be a more efficient use of time than using the phone, and e-mail offers a paper trail for tracking conversations.

    I was thrilled to find these pointers on writing better e-mails from Matthew Stibbe, and I’ve added my thoughts to his list below:

    1. Remember your audience
      Sometimes we get caught up in our own little world and forget about the bigger picture. I know I have been guilty of this. Matthew suggests we think about the reader when we write an e-mail, not just the agenda we want to promote.
    2. Don’t make matters worse
      I thought this was funny, but Matthew is correct when he advises people avoid e-mailing when you are mad, irritated, looking for an argument, or just in a bad mood. Take a deep breath and put off e-mailing until you are in a better mood!
    3. Make subject lines succinct
      There’s nothing worse than scanning your inbox for an e-mail, and they all have the same basic subject line! Matthew suggests your subject lines should be clear, factual and specific. I’d like to add that subject lines should refer to previous e-mails with a hyphen or brackets to give a frame of reference, too.
    4. Simple is better
      This says it all – say what you need to say as efficiently as possible. Use short words, says Matthew, and the fewer the better. People just don’t have time to read lengthy e-mails any more. I know I don’t!
    5. Show some feeling
      Matthew likes using “emoticons,” those little smiley faces or characters you can add to your e-mails. Sometimes an e-mail can seem too harsh or negative without a little “humanness” so, if appropriate, these could add a little lightness or humor.
    6. Avoid forwarding
      We’ve all heard about e-mail forwarding nightmares. Matthew notes that the worst business e-mail fiascoes he’s seen have involved forwarding, CC’ing and BCC’ing accidentally. Personally, I have sent e-mails mistakenly, so it’s something we all need to pay attention to.
    7. Respect the privacy of others
      Matthew brings up a touchy subject here, and I totally agree with his viewpoint. When sending e-mails to many individuals at once, remember to use the BCC option.  I don’t like my e-mail address being sent to people I don’t know personally, and I take that precaution when sending out multiple e-mails myself.
    8. Make it scan-able
      As I mentioned above, people tend to “scan” these days rather than read. If you want to get your message read – Matthew suggests making your e-mail short and sweet. Another trick is using bullets or numbered lists, short paragraphs and subheads.
    9. Use underline or bold face text options
      To get your point across, says Matthew, try underlining, highlighting or using bold face text in your e-mail for key ideas. I use bullets myself as a way to accentuate my points, and to draw attention to specific areas of text.
    10. Step away from the e-mail
      I agree with this last point wholeheartedly. It’s always a good idea to save your e-mail in “drafts” and go back to it in a few minutes before sending it off.

    I think the take-away here is to be observant and thoughtful when drafting e-mails. Think about how much effort people used to put into letter-writing. While that may be a lost art today, we can try to put more thought into our e-mails and consider how we project ourselves on a daily basis.

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