Doing business today means sending emails. In fact, the number of business emails sent each day doubles every four years.

Today's business emails are mostly read on smartphones rather than PCs, which means you've got to write tighter and cleaner.

In my free weekly newsletter, I help people write killer sales emails, press releases, etc., I've collected a bagful of tricks and shortcuts. Here are a few:

1. Use speech recognition to write a first draft.

When they sit down to write, most people get into "writing mode" like a student with a term paper. Good business communications are conversation, so "talk it out" first.

2. Slap a first draft down, then rewrite.

Get your ideas down first without worrying much about order and clarity. Then start at the top and rewrite, making sentences and words simpler and shorter.

3. Provide a clear call to action.

If you want a response to the email, say so. If you want a decision made, say so. If you want the recipient to contact somebody else, say so. Be clear. Be direct.

4. Only use "I", "me," or "we" twice (at most.)

While it's difficult to avoid those words entirely, there should only be one or two in an average three-sentence email. Constant use of those three words marks you as self-centered.

5. Take a trip inside the reader's head.

Pretend you're the recipient and read what you've written. Is what you've written interesting? If not, imagine what might interest the recipient. Then write from that perspective.

6. Break complex sentences into simple ones.

Break any sentence that contains more than one idea into two separate sentences. Shorter sentences are easier to read.

7. Use the simplest words possible.

If there's a shorter word or phrase that means the same thing, use it. For example, use "Web" rather than "Information Superhighway."

8. Rewrite anything that might confuse.

Replace any technical jargon, foreign words or acronyms that the recipient won't immediately understand. Either use simple language or explain the unfamiliar term.

9. Keep your formatting simple.

Your font-filled, fancy formatting may look pretty on your device, but many people read emails in "text only" or use an email program that might garble the format.

10. Present the gist in a single phone screen.

Use two or three sentences at most to make your point quickly. If you simply must include supporting data or documents, attach or append them.

11. Don't be afraid to use emoticons.

Emoticons are the equivalent of facial expressions. They indicate intent when words might be misinterpreted. They're perfectly appropriate in informal business emails.

12. Change the font size and reread it.

This shifts the words around on the page. This forces you to read what you've actually written rather than what you think you've written. You'll find typos you'd otherwise miss.

13. Read it aloud to see if "it works."

Reading aloud help you spot places where your wording is awkward. Sense instead what might sound more apt. Trust your tongue.

Just a reminder: if you subscribe to my free weekly newsletter, I'll critique your sales email for free.

Published on: Dec 13, 2015
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