Emails — positive, not painful: A collection to bookmark

Gina Lockyer | September 15, 2021

Emails build relationships and inspire people to act. We rely on emails to drive our everyday work, decision-making, and to get things done.

Woman sitting at her laptop biting a pencil in frustration

Emailing — it doesn’t have to be this way. Image by JESHOOTS / Unsplash licence

Emails can also be the cause of stress, distraction, and loss of productivity. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Read UCI News article about email vacations on the UCI site

You can make emailing positive, rather than painful. We’ve put together a collection of our tips, techniques, and advice to show you how to write effective emails. You’ll reduce stressful ‘back and forth’ communication or misunderstandings. In this collection you’ll also find ways to leave a great impression, and build a human connection with your reader.

Think and plan before you connect

Before you write, think about your reader, and the purpose of your communication. Is an email the right option? You’ve experienced the meeting that could have been an email. Take time to consider if an email should be a meeting. Write’s Corinna shares some advice for choosing wisely.

‘We’re great fans of thinking about purpose before you write anything — including emails. So we suggest always thinking about what you want to achieve before starting that email. If you want to build a relationship, it may well not be the best option!’

Read Corinna’s blog post about choosing the right mode of communication

Remember that a lot of people don’t like reading, or find it difficult. Find out how people like to communicate, and do what they want. In Colleen’s blog, she explains why a phone conversation might be a better option for some people.

Read Colleen’s blog post about finding out how people prefer to communicate

Get people to respond to your emails the way you want them to

You want to get your message across. Your busy reader wants to know what needs be done. You can make your email a win–win, with some adjustments to your subject line and structure. Our Write consultants share how you can get the response you want.

Read our blog post about email subject lines and structure

‘Think about the emails you do open. And the ones you answer. What works? What doesn’t? You have all the clues in your inbox already — so do some detective work and think about what will encourage your reader to respond, rather than hoping for the best.’

Think about the words you use, and the content you choose

Emojis or jargon? Lots of detail or the bare necessities? The words and content we choose can mean the difference between a well-received email and a major headache. Rhiannon gives some valuable advice for getting your emails on the right track.

Read Rhiannon’s blog post about emojis, jargon, and concise writing

‘Your writing time is wasted if nobody knows what you’re talking about. If your reader might have to look up a word to find out what it means, use a different word.’

Show care, courtesy, and connection — it’s all in the tone of your ‘email voice’

Tone determines whether an email is a source of stress, or a source of inspiration. Greetings, word choice, and writing style contribute to tone. Anne-Marie’s blog looks at what we should pay attention to if we want to get our tone right.

Read Anne-Marie’s blog post about why tone is more important than you think

‘An easy way to think about tone is to think about the feelings you get when you read a communication sent to you. Take a moment to think about an email you got in the last week that stood out to you because of its tone.’

Even your sign-off sends a message

‘I believe the most important point to consider when deciding how to sign off an email is familiarity. ‘Cheers’ might be OK if I’m signing off to a colleague. But if I’m writing a business email to someone I’ve never met, I’d been inclined to sign off with “Kind regards”.’

Leave a positive, professional impression from beginning to end. When you sign off, think about the relationship you have with the reader. You may find the perfect email sign-off is in te reo Māori. Melissa discusses email sign-off etiquette, and how you can end your email on the right note.

Read Melissa’s blog post about how best to sign off
Find te reo Māori email sign-offs in this resource from Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori

Need expert help with emails?

Have a look at our Email Essentials workshop

If you need a motivational or technical boost to do it yourself — go to our online content library at Write Online.

Insights, tips, and professional development opportunities.