How to Write Effective Emails: 6 Communication Tips

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We rely on emails A LOT in sorority world. Sorority volunteers, staff, advisors, and collegians are spread throughout the country, so communication is often via email. If you want to be effective with your emails, you need to think about how the other person on the receiving end will react. Does your email come across bossy, disrespectful, impatient, or incomplete? Take a look at the following tips to make sure you get what you need from your emails on the first try. 

1. Give deadlines, but be realistic. 

Don't send an email after midnight on Friday asking the person to fill out a poll by Monday morning. People are busy. If you have a request, give a week deadline, then send a friendly reminder halfway through the week. 

2. Ask politely, don't tell. 

You can be direct about your request, but make sure you're phrasing it as a request, not a demand. Even if you're in a leadership role, you must be respectful with your request, so check how your message will come across. Sorority women are often volunteering for their roles, so make sure you're being polite and gracious. 

3. Plan Ahead. 

Did I mention that people are busy? Whether you're emailing advisors, collegians, or national officers, they have commitments that take up their time. They have jobs, schoolwork, careers, and families. Plan ahead in sending your message so you leave enough time for them to read and process it appropriately. Also make sure you're sending at an optimal time, if possible. Emails sent on Friday night, for example, are likely to be overlooked. 

4. Get to the Point. 

Be clear in your message about what you need the receiver to know and what you need from them. Be succinct, but provide context as needed. Make sure to highlight action items so the receiver understands what you're requesting. Bullet points or numbered lists may help keep your message organized. 

5. Check Your Subject Line. 

Choose a subject line that is descriptive enough so the receiver knows the topic of your message. If there's an action item or deadline, you could include that as well. If I'm just sharing an "FYI" message, I'll add that to my subject line. If I need a response, I'll include "Feedback Requested" or "Approval Needed." If you're inviting people to attend a conference call or meeting, include the date and time of the call in your subject line, so it's front and center when they receive the message. A good subject line helps the receiver know what you need from them and when it's due. 

6. Respond Promptly. 

Try to hit reply within 24-48 hours on all emails you receive, even with a "Hi, I saw your message and will reply to you soon," so they know you'll be in touch. Make sure to follow up later more in depth. 

 

Remember to make it easy for the receiver to reply and make them actually *want* to reply to you. If your emails are written effectively, you'll build relationships, get answers, and receive the approvals you need. What else would you add to this list? What communication tips do you always use when writing emails?