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I received a newsletter from my IT support service (www.homeITsupport.biz) with various tips for using email more efficiently.

Tip number 1 was:reader-friendly-emails-business-english

“Never send large attachments by email. Use an alternative like MailBigFile, YouSendIt or Dropbox. Email is designed for small text items, not files. Adding large files is like trying to drive a truck through a cat flap!”.

This started me thinking. Everyone seems to want to deal with emails faster and faster. So, if you can make yours really quick to read – yet with enough detail so that the reader gets the right message – you’re more likely to get a response.

Here are my 5 Quick Tips for Reader-Friendly Emails: 

1. Check the subject lines before you hit Send

Ensure your subject line matches the specific content of the current email – this makes it easier to file and find later. If it’s a long string of mails on a specific topic (eg. Client X) add your new content to that (eg Contract Re: Client X).

I’ve lost so much time searching for a specific email that was sent with a long-out-of-date subject-line. Or, just as bad, with the same subject for numerous emails.

2. Decide what your main purpose is:

This will make you write more clearly.

Are you requesting action?  Are you providing information?

3.  After your greeting, place your main message in the first 3 lines

This is very important if you are requesting action because emails aren’t always read to the end. Also, attention often reduces as the reader progresses through the email.

A good opener could be:

“Thank you for making time to drop in yesterday. Here is the summary of key points as promised. Could you confirm point 3 by return?”

Then you can continue with the rest of the information you need to pass on. By highlighting the action early on you tell the reader to look through the email in order to complete the request..

4. Keep paragraphs very short if you know your email will be read on a smart phone

One medium-length sentence will probably be enough. This will make it easier to for the recipient to read because it will be 3-5 lines on the small screen.

5. Re-read emails twice before you send from a smart phone.

Do this a couple of times at least. It’s horribly easy to be caught out by the mix of predictive text and quick typing.

These practical tips will help to make sure your emails are taken notice of and more importantly actioned.

For more tips about improving your English and using English for Business, download your free copy of our “International Business Tips” e-book.  If you work internationally, you’ll find the practical tips useful – for meetings, presentations and conference calls.

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