Wednesday, October 16, 2013

This post will be long because I didn't have time to make it short.

There is an old adage "take what is being said, not how it is said". When you are reading an email, tone and context are void so you can only take what is being said. However we generally impose our own tone on the email that reflect our perceptions of the sender. Therefore the onus is on the sender to ensure their writing style is neutral, or positioned to properly relay the information.

If you think your writing style is excellent you may want to take time for self assessment so you don't fall victim to the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Often enough we are introduced to new contacts via email. Just as in person, you can only make one first impression. Here are some tips for better writing practices to help improve your personal brand.

One of the best pieces of advice I have come across is write as if your reader dislikes you. At the very least this will ensure that your tone is neutral.

Madman. Architect. Carpenter. Judge.  Write down all of your ideas. Outline and categorize your ideas. Write out and connect all of your ideas. Edit your work.

Choose your words accordingly. Certain words can have negative connotations depending on the context. Describing some ones work as 'basic' can be taken as remedial, where as using 'outline' would suggest you've laid out a solid foundation for the project.

Take your audience into account. Depending on your relationship you will write differently. Don't be too formal with your friends; similarly don't be caught being too casual with your superiors or clients.

Use your time wisely. Don't spend time looking up bigger words to sound more knowledgeable. Instead demonstrate your knowledge by getting your point across in a concise, coherent manner. You will sounds more authentic and save your reader time as well.

Practice. Initially it will take more time to craft better emails, in the long run you'll save yourself time by being more direct and concise.

Proof your work. Every so often we are part of those ridiculous email chains, question after question, where the sender and reader end up getting frustrated with each other. Take the extra 2 minutes to read it over a couple of times to make sure your points are clear. Remember you're the expert, not everyone has your degree of knowledge on this particular subject.

Lastly, one of my biggest pet peeves, don't forward a chain of 10 emails and write "see below".  Your reader's time is just as valuable as yours. Take a minute to highlight what they are supposed to be "seeing", even better copy the relevant snippets and keep the chain attached in case further details are required.

No comments:

Post a Comment