How should one practice writing e-mails online?

Writing emails: step-by-step instructions

E-mails have become an integral part of everyday work. On average, each employee receives an estimated 30 to 40 emails a day. Managers count even more. However, in addition to their positive properties, such as fast, compact and time-independent communication, emails unfortunately also have a major disadvantage: They are sometimes the biggest time and efficiency killers in everyday work.

Many workers perceive incoming e-mails as a constant interruption that prevents them from productive work. This promotes stress and exhaustion. The employees then have the feeling that they are lagging behind their schedule because of the emails. In addition, it has been proven that after reading and interrupting our work by an e-mail, we then need an average of 15 minutes in order to be able to concentrate fully on a task again. With the number of emails mentioned, it is actually a small miracle that the companies can still work productively at all.

1. How are emails actually read?
2. The guide to the perfect email
3. The correct email address
4. The subject
5. Keep the correspondence going
6. The salutation
7. Select information
8. Structure the email
9. Use lists
10. The greeting
11. Check contact details
12. Standardize the format
13. Proofreading
14. Check the address line
15. Basic rules and tips for the perfect email

How are emails actually read?

But is it really worth the time you invest in writing emails? Or are they not read correctly at all? In fact, email handling practices have changed dramatically in recent years. This is mainly due to the rapid development of mobile devices. Electronic letters have long since ceased to be read only on computers, but increasingly also on tablets and smartphones. At the same time, this means that the reader may be out and about, sitting at lunch or waiting for the train at the train station. The attention is inevitably clouded and long e-mails in particular are not or only briefly read and "Postponed until later".

The "New" E-mails are therefore kept brief and structured as clearly as possible. This means that they can also be skimmed over on a small display without any problems, and if you are distracted or lack time, the most important key points are immediately apparent. In addition, the key messages of the e-mail can be specifically highlighted in bold or paragraphs. But short does not necessarily mean fast, because fast does not mean good. A short e-mail in particular requires a high level of attention and skill. After all, all important information should still be included. Easy "Start writing" was yesterday. This is how you write the perfect email today, also for mobile devices:

The guide to the perfect email:

1. The correct email address

Not only the address of the recipient has to be chosen correctly, but also your own. It is important that the address is professional and business, and that you always use the same email address when communicating with someone. Otherwise, not only does your counterpart quickly lose track of things, but you too.

Examples of optimal email addresses:

2. The subject

The importance of the subject is often underestimated. After all, it is often the deciding factor in whether your e-mail will be read immediately, later or not at all. It's not that easy to write a good subject. After all, this one line should let the recipient know what the email is about and encourage them to read. As a rule of thumb, give the topic a name and use short sentences if necessary. Keep the text short and do not formulate your sentences. A short subject line is by no means impolite, it saves time and promotes targeted communication. The courtesy itself then follows in the salutation and the content of the mail.

Examples of strong subject lines:

  • Your VIP invitation to the online business congress
  • My 3 best tips for good team building

3. Keep the correspondence going

Once the correspondence is started, it should be kept going. This also includes not deleting the previously written messages, but rather storing them in an appropriate folder. In this way, the information exchanged can be read again. This prevents misunderstandings and ambiguities and makes referencing tasks and deadlines or quoting from previous e-mails much easier and clearer. While the "Re:"- or "Fwd:"- Comments in the subject can be shortened, the past conversations can remain as text in the e-mail. So you have all the information clearly in one place. The storage space for pure text mail is negligible.

4. The salutation

The salutation, together with the greeting, is the most important politeness phrase in an email. It must not be left out in any case and should never be anonymous if possible ("Dear Ladies and Gentlemen"). Find out the name of your contact person and write to them personally. In addition, you should always make sure to spell the name correctly or, if necessary, to ask again directly. An existing title should also be mentioned. The address as “Mr.” or “Ms.” can then be omitted. In this case it would be: "Dear Dr. Schmäling ". If it is a loose relationship, then that too is allowed "Hello" to get voted. "Moinmoin", "Servus", Grüß Di ‘" or similar sloppy formulations are to be avoided in the business area at all times.

5. Select information

In order to be able to write the email as briefly as possible, it is necessary to collect the information in advance. If you just start writing and throw the information together wildly as it comes to mind, you will certainly not find the recipient happy. The same applies when sending several emails in a row because the attachment or important information has been forgotten. So compile all the information and then try to include it directly in the first sentence. In addition, only provide the background information that is absolutely necessary so that the reader can understand the context of the email. Otherwise, banish all unnecessary information from your text and separate the content of the emails.

If you would like to discuss two different topics with the same business partner, write two separate e-mails with the respective subject and the corresponding information. Because emails are often filed according to topic or project. In the case of two topics in an email, the recipient would have to decide and may not find them again later.

6. Structure the email

The keyword structure is particularly important for e-mails. Nothing is worse to the eye than a single coherent text. Therefore, use it specifically paragraphs and Enumerations.

7. Use lists

The lists are clearest when they are in the form of Bullet points or even just individual words can be listed. In this way, the reader recognizes the important content at a glance and can, if necessary, insert his comments directly under the respective bullet points when responding. In addition, you can highlight the most important points in bold or paragraphs as you wish.

8. The greeting

Every good email ends with a greeting, even if it has already been preceded by a long conversation. The shortest variant is a short MfG, are better "Best regards", "Regards" or "Best wishes". The greeting is particularly appealing if it contains a personal note, but without becoming too flippant. Examples would be: "Kind regards to Berlin" or "Greetings from summery Munich".

More on this: Business emails: How creative can greetings be?

9. Check contact details

Every business email that you send contains a pre-set signature with your contact details. Check them to ensure that they are up to date at regular intervals. If your communication partner tries to reach you in vain, it looks unprofessional and is often very annoying.

More: All's well that ends well! The perfect email signature

10. Standardize the format

Now you can standardize the format. Check that you have used the same font and size throughout the email. This is important for a professional appearance. If necessary, mark the to-do's and deadlines again with colored or bold letters.

11. Proofreading

Now you should proofread the email again before sending it. After all, spelling, comma or dot errors creep in quickly and leave an unprofessional impression. You should also pay attention to the correct upper and lower case, which is nowadays often neglected.

12. Check the address line

Now check again whether the address line is correct and finally send your e-mail. If you send an attachment, make sure you check again whether it has been accepted by the program. In addition, it should never exceed a size of five MB.

Basic rules and tips for the perfect email

All in all, composing a good email is not rocket science. With a little practice and care, you will soon be familiar with the new way of writing e-mails for mobile devices. Nevertheless, classic mistakes creep in again and again, which in the B-to-B area are absolute No-gos be valid. To conclude, here are the most important basic rules and tips so that nothing goes wrong with your next email:

  • Foreign words and Denglish word creations are often used to appear as professional or knowledgeable as possible. Unfortunately, this often backfires, overwhelms the recipient or causes misunderstandings and ambiguities. Therefore, express yourself clearly, briefly and simply.
  • A friendly and polite communication is the be-all and end-all of a good business relationship. So always stay calm and polite, even if your emotions would like to say something different. Never use several exclamation marks or question marks, they appear intrusive and unfriendly. Always stay calm and then react in your free time.
  • Emoticons do not belong in formal emails or customer contact.
  • Abbreviations are to be avoided at best. Because “FYI” or “ASAP” often cause more confusion than clarity.
  • irony is very often misunderstood in written form and therefore has no place in business dealings. Better to keep your jokes for your friends or colleagues.
  • Left are definitely a good aid, but should be used with care and to the extent that they are appropriate. Make sure you only link to reputable websites and avoid the distraction of links from the actual content of your email.
  • Attachments must be saved and opened before reading. That takes up time. Therefore attachments should only be used if the information cannot be included in the email. If you cannot do without the attachment, refer to it in the text and briefly name the contents of the attachment so that the reader knows why he should open it. Make sure that you have attached it before you send it. The attachment is the number one source of error when sending e-mails and is always good for a mishap.

Photo credit: Photo by Onlineprinters on Unsplash


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