Many business leaders rely heavily on technology in their day-to-day work activities. However, business is ultimately all about people, making effective communication a key component for success. While communication might seem like a “soft skill,” that doesn’t directly add to the bottom line, it’s actually one of the most important skills in the workforce.
Unfortunately, many people lack effective or even basic communication skills. Poor communication can cost businesses upwards of $5,200 every year—per employee! For large organizations, those costs can really add up and undermine leaders’ efforts to run a lean and efficient operation.
5 tips for effective email communications
Email is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to poor communication in the workplace. That makes it a good place to start in your efforts to improve! The following are five effective email communication strategies that every business should adopt.
1. Get to the point
We waste a lot of time reading long emails. Many people feel that getting right to the point in an email is rude, and unconsciously try to bury their main request or message in a long paragraph of unnecessary information. What we often fail to see is that taking up more of the recipient’s time is actually a greater offense than getting straight to the point! How long should your business emails be?
Keep it short and sweet. Use a clear subject line to convey the purpose of the email. Add a short greeting, communicate the essential information, add a polite sign-off, and be on your way. You’ll save yourself and the recipient time and reduce miscommunication opportunities.
2. Keep it cordial
Just because it’s important to make your emails succinct doesn’t mean you should be rude. Never launch straight into the body of the email—start with a polite greeting. Whenever possible, add the recipient’s name to build goodwill.
You should also think about how your words will come across to someone who isn’t inside your head. How’s your tone? If you read the message out loud, how does it sound? You don’t want anything you say to be taken the wrong way, so keep it cordial.
3. Maintain professionalism in your correspondence
These days, professional doesn’t have to mean stuffy. What it does mean, however, is that you need to avoid sloppiness and read over your messages to ensure that you’re not sending typos or grammatical errors. These will affect the recipient’s opinion of you, like it or not. If you’re not confident in your spelling and grammar skills, there are lots of free tools to help you.
Speaking of professionalism, lay off the emojis when sending work-related emails, especially to clients or customers. They don’t add anything to your correspondence and they come across as unprofessional. Leave them for your personal communications.
4. Make your emails easy to consume
We’re all busy in the office, and it’s frustrating to get emails that are difficult to read and understand. Big walls of text, no subheadings, and unnecessary attachments are all factors that can make an email difficult to consume.
You can make your complex emails easier to consume by guiding the reader through the main points in a clear, concise way. If your message is long, break it up into paragraphs and add headings. In some cases, images might be appropriate.
If you really need to send an attachment, copy and paste the information or add an explanation and a summary, if possible. Try to avoid sending them whenever you can, though—most people find them annoying and downloading anything is always a security risk.
5. To email, or not to email?
Email, Slack, chat, and other tech tools have allowed us to avoid direct confrontation and reduced face-to-face communications within the office environment. While email does have many incredible benefits and may reduce interruptions, it’s not always the best way to communicate information.
Before you send an email, think about whether it’s the best way to get your message across. Talking to someone in person allows you to get instant feedback and the ability to read their initial reactions. It’s also often the quicker option—you’ll spend less time explaining than you will in typing out an explanation.
When you need a paper trail, though, it’s best to email or to summarize your in-person conversation in email form. Whether or not to email really depends on the situation and context!
Make your words count
In today’s gender imbalanced work environment, communication is especially important for the upward mobility of women. Workers at all levels of an organization need to make the effort to communicate more clearly and effectively. We can all learn to be better communicators.
Make your words count. Getting rid of filler words and making your emails more professional and concise might not seem like a big deal, but it can save office hours every week and prevent misunderstandings. Email etiquette is tricky, but it’s absolutely worth mastering—regardless of where you are in your career.