4.2 E-mails

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Immediate sending capabilities, availability to the recipient whenever it's convenient to read it, and easy distribution to multiple people at the same time. For example, it isn't appropriate to delegate an important project, to point out a significant error, or discuss personal issues by business email. As you probably know many online mediums of communications such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and texting have developed their own vocabulary, and colloquialism, and abbreviations.

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Email has become the primary means of short and quick communications in business. Email offers many conveniences that letters and telephone call don’t, such as ready access to the recipient’s email address. Immediate sending capabilities, availability to the recipient whenever it’s convenient to read it, and easy distribution to multiple people at the same time. Email also offers the convenience of easy archiving, and easy compatibility, or conversion to other software platforms. Typed or handwritten letters and telephone calls lacks some of these features. And so, we as a society very rapidly and readily transitioned to using email as our standard form of an informal business communication. In this lecture, I will discuss when, and when not to use email. How to use the subject line to immediately engage your reader. The importance of correct grammar and spelling in emails, and some strategies for reducing the amount of time spent on reading emails. And how to present yourself in the best professional light. As you look at these lists, you’ll most likely notice that the majority of the items in the yes column are informal. This is because in general, email is not considered a formal, legally binding communication. Certainly, there are forms of email communication which can be developed into formal communication. By using features such as e-signature and formal response requests by email, or an online site. Many organizations still use paper documents for contracts, formal legal agreements, or official notifications though. These practices are changing rapidly, however, so be aware of what are considered to be the best practices in your industry and your organization. Some of the items on the no list relate to good leadership and business communication practices. For example, it isn’t appropriate to delegate an important project, to point out a significant error, or discuss personal issues by business email. Also, if something is truly urgent, email is not the appropriate means of communication. It is the best means of sending reminders, arranging meetings, providing updates, and making small requests. When to CC and when not to CC. The three fields at the top of an email are typically so quickly filled out that we tend to overlook how to use them to our advantage. Here are some suggestions and things to think about regarding the administrative part of your email. The To field is used when sending a direct message to someone or a group of people. Use it when your email is meant to be addressed directly to all recipients as in the case of a manager directing his team. Keep in mind, that when you use the To field, all email addresses can be viewed by all recipients. So, if you put multiple addresses in the To field, only when every recipient is okay with his or her email address being released to everyone. If you’re not sure, better to use the BCC field. CC stands for carbon copy, which is kind of funny because people listening to this may never have used or even seen carbon paper, which, in case you haven’t, was the old fashioned way of duplicating a document. You use the CC field to send a copy of the email message to people who are not meant to be the direct recipients of the message, but still need to be kept in the loop. For instance, if a manager has ordered her assistant to send a memo with instructions to everyone in the department, the assistant may place all the department employees’ email addresses on the To field, and the manager’s email address in the CC field. Or the sender might place those with action items listed on the document in the To section. And those who just need to know in this CC field. Some organizations now have the norm, or the expectation that an employees will use To for individuals from whom you expect to response, and CC for those from whom you do not expect to response. That cuts down on the number of emails that just say, okay, or see you there. Remember, that like the To field, all email addresses entered in the CC field can be viewed by everyone. BCC stands for blind carbon copy. When you place email addresses in the BCC field, recipients are blind to other recipient’s email address. The use of the BCC field is most appropriate if the recipients have not given permission for their email address to be released, or if there is reason to keep the email address private. Because the BCC field offers privacy that the two, and CC fields don’t. You should use the BCC field for both direct and indirect email messages where the privacy of the email addresses is needed. A best practice here is if you wish to send an email to many direct recipients, but you don’t wish to disclose anyone’s email address, just use your own email address in the To field, and use the BCC field for the recipients addresses. The subject line should be short and informative. It is quite important what you put in this field, because it is often the information your recipients use to decide if they’re going to read your email, or even open it. As people read down their list of emails, most people look for the subject and the sender when deciding which to read, which to save, and which to delete without even reading. So, your subject line must be highly informative and engaging. For example, here are some good subject lines. Need to know your availability for a meeting. Follow up items from Friday’s meeting. This contract must be reviewed by Thursday. Sometimes the subject line can even contain the whole message. For example, I’ll see you tomorrow at 10 at Starbucks on Washington. Confirming our meeting at 9 tomorrow. Please call me when you have a moment this afternoon. In this case, you may not need any text in the body of the email. What about grammar, spelling, and word choice? Email is not text messaging to your kids. As you probably know many online mediums of communications such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and texting have developed their own vocabulary, and colloquialism, and abbreviations. In the business environment though, it is wise to remember that emails should be written with the same formality as any business letter. Always follow the rules of good grammar. You may refer to module two of this course, and English writing style guides for these rules. Always use full sentences and words with proper sentence structure. Don’t use text speak. Proper capitalization and punctuation are a must. In email, all caps give the impression that you’re shouting. And small caps are hard to read. In business email avoid text speak abbreviation such as BTW, IMHO, and LOL. Avoid the use of emoticons as well. At a minimum, use of text speak abbreviation and emoticons reduces the formality of the communication. And at worst, may cause you to lose the respect of your reader. Until you are told otherwise by your manager, write emails as if they were business letters or memos. Read through this email. What do you notice about it, and how do you react to it based on what I’ve just explained? Now read through the second email. How do you react to it in terms of its clarity and professionalism? Notice that the second version uses complete sentences, no text speak, no abbreviations and no acronyms. Read each item from an email and identify what you might want to change. Some tips to help you improve your email communications are to write with a focus on the recipient, always be polite and professional regardless of your topic, set options in Outlook or other email software to run spell check automatically. For longer or more important messages compose them in a word processing program, run spell check and grammar check, and then cut and paste them in your email client. Always reread before you hit send, maybe even a couple of times. Use professional and appropriate greetings and sign offs. Your signature should have name, title, and contact information so that your reader may choose how to respond to you, and regarding the number of emails. If you are judicious in your use of emails, you can encourage others to do so as well. By being judicious, I mean, never click reply all without carefully reviewing the recipient list. Don’t send a separate email response to an electronic invitation to which you’ve already responded. And don’t answer someone if it isn’t necessary. Email can be at a great time saver and a time waster it’s just a matter of how you use it. Your choices in when you read your emails whether or not you have your notifications turned on, and how you filter your incoming messages can make a huge difference in the amount of time it takes for you to process your incoming mail. The first step, though, is to make good use of the tool when it makes sense to do so. And remember that email, too, is a form of professional business communication.

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