To E-mail or Not to E-mail, that is the question. Rule #1: Ensure e-mail is the best vehicle for your communications. In some cases, picking up the phone or having a face-to-face conversation may be better than e-mail. E-mailing someone does not guarantee an immediate response, as they may choose to respond later after having a chance to think about your message. If you call, you are able to get a response faster and streamline a conversation that could potentially take several e-mail exchanges.
Beat around the bush at your own peril. Rule #2: Be direct. Get to the point at the beginning of your message. Ask questions or provide answers within the first couple of sentences. This ensures you won't lose the reader's attention or confuse or annoy him or her with unnecessary information. Give your explanations and details later in your message, AFTER the recipient knows the purpose of your e-mail.
OK, so now what do I do? Rule #3: State who should respond and when. If you send an e-mail to more than one person, be clear on who is responsible for what. A group e-mail can cause confusion, leading the recipients to assume that someone else will take care of your request. Also, if you need a response by a certain time, state that in your e-mail. Otherwise, your request may get pushed down on their to-do list.
Less is more. Rule #4: Keep your e-mails to one topic. By including more than one topic, you run the risk of something being overlooked or ignored.
As your elementary teacher said, "Spelling Counts." Rule #5: Last, but certainly not least, remember the rules of punctuation and grammar. In today's digital world, we are using shortcuts everywhere, from text messaging to the spoken word. However, by ignoring basic grammar and punctuation rules, your message may be misunderstood and it may take more time for the recipient to decode your message. An e-mail is NOT a text message-especially in the business realm. Use complete sentences and take the time to proofread your e-mail before pressing 'send.'