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Are You Using These 3 Techniques to Write Emails that Get Results?


Every time you touch the keyboard in an office environment you’re being recorded. When you send emails, they are recorded and they are forever!

Every time you touch the keyboard in an office environment you’re being recorded. When you send emails, they are recorded and they are forever!

Years ago when I worked at E*TRADE my emails from years prior were queried to help settle a dispute with a vendor. The attorneys handling the dispute were shocked at the level of detail I included and the clarity of my correspondence.

One attorney asked me, “Do you always write your email in this manner or only to outside individuals?” Needless to say, my answer was “yes, always.” I then thanked my past-self for writing professional emails and treated myself to a cold pint!

Email is the most common – and often misused – form of business communication. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Of all the arrows in your quiver of business tools that can kick your workplace game up a notch, email – yes email – is the most overlooked and one of the most powerful.

Of  course there is basic email etiquette that needs to be adhered to for any workplace communication. This not only includes standard salutations but other professional communication standards. So before we get to the three steps for writing email that gets results, let’s do a quick review. 

Email needs to clear and without too much interpretation. How many times have you had a co-worker interpret your tone in an email when there was nothing there?


Why not take that entire inane discussion off the table? Make them clear and you won’t have to spend an hour defending a simple email – you can use that time to bolt off to the local pub with your friends and have your favorite lager, pilsner or IPA!

Email needs to be concise. We are all busy and sending emails that include extemporaneous information is a waste of your time and the recipient’s time.

I once worked with a woman whose emails were literally the joke of the office. Her emails seemed to be little more than a stream of consciousness which was both frightening and irritating – 500 words later and you still couldn’t determine the point!

Email needs to be professional. Workplace email communication is not the same as personal email communication.

The emails I send my friends when we are planning the annual ski trip or travelling to the next Duck away game includes far more colorful phrases and interesting adjectives than my business email. You’ll have to use your imagination here… I have blocked my friends from commenting on this post.

Here are the three steps to writing emails that get results:

1. Start with a good summary of the situation

This ensures that everyone is on the same page with the status of the work at hand. In the event the recipients disagree with your summary or have additional information to share, this is everyone’s opportunity to get on the same page.

2. The second step is to make your emails actionable

When writing email we are looking for something, right? We need some new report or a confirmation to move forward with phase two of a project. Email is an efficient way to communicate what we need in order to move forward.

3. The third step is to add a due date

It’s one of the easiest ways to ensure accountability and move things forward in the office. I always say to add in a due date and the recipients will tell you if they can’t make that deadline. If you don’t add in a due date for what you need to move forward, chances are high you will be chasing those deliverables all over the place.

Remember that email is forever.

Make sure your email is clear, concise and professional and make them actionable and you’ll be surprised how much more effective you become.

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