Chances are, as an executive assistant you will be tasked with writing many, many emails during the course of your workday. Being able to create a professional email will be crucial to your success and longevity as a working administrative professional. Here are some easy steps to remember.
Use a meaningful subject line.
This will be the very first impression the recipient has of you and it is the fastest way for them to determine whether your email is important to read right now or later. Always, always include a subject line and make sure it is concise and clear.
If you are writing an email to the executive team to get their orders for lunch, a subject like this would be perfect: Lunch requests for meeting, please respond by 11 am Mountain Time. As you can see, it’s clear in the intent of the email, gives adequate information so that the individual can take action in time, and doesn’t beat around the bush.
Use a salutation and a closing.
There is nothing lazier in email writing than to leave out a salutation and closing. Addressing the recipient shows respect and is friendly. Launching right into the message comes off as rude and shows disrespect to the recipient. Even if you don’t know who exactly you are addressing the email to, including a generic greeting like “Hello” or “Greetings” is still appropriate.
Once you’ve completed your message, make sure you identify yourself by first and last name in the closing. A “Sincerely, John Doe” goes a long way. It lets the recipient know who you are and is a nice finishing touch. Having a signature block set up can take the place of this—just make sure you remember to insert it at the end. Getting a mystery email from an unknown person is the easiest way to have that message ignored.
Caveat: There will be circumstances where you can be more informal, but you will know when those are. Don’t assume informality until you have conversed on the matter with the recipient. After a few back-and-forth conversations, the emails may become more informal. That’s a good gauge to go by!
Don’t be a jerk.
Any kind of online communication is subject to the terrible plague of tone loss. Try to keep your tone light and breezy in your correspondence. But even if you meant something in a joking tone or lightheartedly, it is possible for it to be misread and misunderstood.
Never write an email when you are emotionally charged. That emotion can come through and cause problems. Instead, take a step away and wait until your emotions are separated. Once you’ve calmed down, consider your words carefully and when in doubt, don’t write those words.
If you are ever unsure about tone, try having another co-worker read your email before you send it. They may pick up on something you didn’t consider. Another thing to do is to keep the recipient’s address out of the To box until you are certain your email message is focused, friendly, and clear. That prevents accidental sending before your message is completely ready.
Proofread. Always proofread.
With most email programs using robust spellchecking software, there really is no excuse for typos in your emails. Before hitting send, carefully read through the email to ensure you don’t have any misspellings, commonly confused words, incorrect punctuation issues, or capitalization issues. Sending a grammatically problematic email to your executive or coworkers is one of the fastest ways to lose face with them. Proofreading only takes 30 seconds, but it can save your job.
Before you get into the workforce, try practicing these email skills in your everyday correspondence. Using them when writing to your course instructors, friends, customer service reps, etc., can really help establish good habits so that they’re second nature when you get into the workforce.
I hope these tips help you to step up your professional email wizardry. Did we miss any steps? Leave them in the comments below.