Writing Effective Emails

Image credit to doobybrain on Flickr

Since many things are done via email now, thanks to smartphones and iPads, we’re never too far away from our emails, and more of us are choosing to communicate via that method.

When it comes to writing an effective email, it’s all about being aware of what you’re doing and what you could potentially be saying. Here’s a quick list of Do’s and Don’ts for writing emails, whether you are communicating with a customer or another business associate.

Do use language appropriate for the person you’re speaking to. If the person you’re emailing doesn’t work in IT, don’t use technical jargon to respond to their emails. Speak on a level that is appropriate for who you’re emailing.

Don’t be afraid to sound like you know what you’re talking about. If you’re asked a specific question, answer it to the best of your abilities, but keep the language you use appropriate for who you are speaking to.

Do keep in mind that things get lost in translation. If you’ve ever had a conversation with a friend then you know that there is sometimes a question on what the person on the other end meant, keep that in mind when sending an email. Sarcasm and humor can get lost quickly in an email.

Don’t forget to read the email out loud before you send. Not only will this help you to proofread any grammar or spelling errors you can hear how your brain is inferring the speech in the email so that you can take out anything that might not translate.

Do answer all the questions presented to you in an email.

Don’t write a novel when a sentence would do.

Do use a canned email when appropriate. Sometimes, it’s okay to have emails on “stand by” to send back. A perfect example of this would be if you’re sending someone steps to walk them through how to do something. It’s okay to have that email ready to send so that you don’t have to type out all of the steps over and over again.

Don’t get so caught up in a canned response that you miss what the person is asking. Read the email thoroughly and used a canned email only when appropriate. You still need to be sure you’re answering inquires posed to you.

Do ask for greater clarification in order to understand what the person needs. It’s perfectly okay to make sure that someone means X rather than Y and most would rather clarify then have you misunderstand and respond anyway.

Don’t feel like an email conversation cannot become a phone conversation. For me, the rule is more than three emails back and forth and it’s time to pick up the phone and make the call.

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AccuConference | "Breaking the Ice" Without Falling in the Water

"Breaking the Ice" Without Falling in the Water

Good ice breakers not only get people to feel comfortable talking with one another they also get people familiar with what the meeting is all about and what it hopes to achieve. Ice breakers, if done right, reduce tension, fear, and discomfort. They get people more engaged, helping them contribute more effectively. A good ice breaker almost always leads to a more successful meeting.

You have to be careful though, not every meeting needs an ice breaker. And, if an ice breaker is not appropriately planned and tailored to its specific audience and goal, you can end up with an "ice breaker gone bad". This is a disaster. Bad ice breakers waste precious time and can embarrass you and meeting participants, intensifying the very thing you’re trying to overcome.

To avoid "bad icebreaking", design your "breaker" to focus on the goals of your event and on getting people to focus on and talk about their similarities, not their differences. Keep it simple and make sure what you have planned is something all participants will be comfortable with. Make sure that what you do creates a level playing field for sharing ideas, especially when you bring together people of different pay grades and/or status.

After you have designed your ice breaker, reflect on it and review it carefully. Ask yourself how you think each person will react and if they will feel comfortable. If you feel anyone might be uncomfortable, try another idea.

At a loss to know what to do or just don't have that "party planner" mentality? Anyone can come up with a great and appropriate icebreaker.

How? There is no end to ideas on the Internet for ice breakers that will suit whatever group you need to get interacting. Just type in "meeting+icebreakers" on any Internet search engine and a host of sites with many great (and not so great – so keep in mind your audience and meeting objectives) will come up.

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