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How do you sound in emails?

Meridith is the manager of marketing and communications at the West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce and the West Des Moines New View Young Professionals coordinator. 

IStock_000041999824_LargeOne of my responsibilities for the West Des Moines Chamber is to send out weekly mailings to our membership. I enjoy being able to interact with our membership and this task has given me that opportunity. One email that I received last week, however, forced me to contemplate how I come across in email correspondence. Here is a portion of the email that I received:

“First it would be nice that the emails come from The Chamber.  Right now they say they are coming from Meridith Freese.  For the longest time I would not open them because I did not know who this was and thought it was spam or something. Also, I tried to reply to your email, but you made the background brown so when I typed my message you could not read it with that background.”

Right away I noticed that there was no cordial greeting in this letter, and no professional closing or signature at the end. Just a paragraph of criticism for me to read. While I do not mind getting constructive criticism, I do believe there is a way to give a critique in a respectful manner as opposed to an oppositional one. (And I wondered if I would I have received this email if the title of President was in my signature line? I will never know.) But what I do know is that even though this person could have been extremely sincere in their suggestions, trying to be helpful, I did not take it as such. The lack of conversational politeness felt disrespectful to me and it was difficult for me to get past that to “hear” the point.

Being able to understand how you sound in an email in this tech savvy world is critical to your success in your career.  Here are some suggestions that I urge you to consider before you push the send button:

  1. The subject line is crucial to summarizing your intent.
  2. Do not overuse capitalization or the exclamation point.
  3. Always, always, always use a personal greeting, and please take the extra few moments to make sure you are spelling the person’s name correctly.
  4. Keep your messages short and about the subject at hand.  Respect people’s time.
  5. If it will turn into a conversation, pick up the phone instead.
  6. Ask yourself, how I would feel about this email if it were sent to me?

Even though this may seem like common sense to some, it still is occurring frequently in the workplace. Take the time to make sure that what they "hear" is what you mean. 

-Meridith Freese 171A6085

Connect with me!

Facebook: meridith.freese
Twitter: @MertFreese
Email: Meridith@wdmchamber.org
Blog: The-Write-Of-Passage.com


Excellent blog. All good information to serve as reminders as we write/send emails. Nice job, Meredith. Rose Breuss

Meredith, excellent blog post! Daily I receive emails that lack common communications courtesy. As technology continues to drive our lives, it's important that we don't forget the importance of well-written communications in all formats.

Frankly, I would overlook the perceived rudeness because that person was doing you a big favor. They went way out of their way to tell you this so that you could do your job better.

Distributing an email newsletter is trickier than many imagine. One tip that's worked well for me is sending test emails to 5+ people not at the place I work. I ask them:
•would you open this?
•how does this read?
•what do you like / not like?
•is the call to action clear?
•would you forward this email to a colleague?

By doing this, I'm able to optimize the email before thousands of eyes have already seen it.

Keep doing the damn thing!

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