Wednesday, September 11, 2019

How to write an effective E-mail

With the advent of technology, the way we communicate is changed and still it is going to change. Most of the times, we communicate through verbal communication. However, written communication, since the origin of hieroglyphs in Egypt 4000 years ago, has not lost its importance. 

In business world and public administration after lots of verbal communication, things are eventually reduced in writing which removes any uncertainty and confusion. In case of any dispute or loss of “organisational memory”, written communication would have the final word. Most importantly, emails (for that matter any digital records) can be produced as an evidence in a court if certain conditions are complied with as per Indian Evidence Act 1872, read with Information Technology Act 2000. 

The use of email is increasing day by day in formal communication replacing the “hardcopy” to a large extent. Speed, low cost, easy retrieval, multiple “dispatch” at a time (CC, BCC), forwarding, attachments, savings on paper, etc are some of many advantages the email has over snail mail. No wonder why email is becoming so popular as a channel of communication all over the world.

An email could be said a hybrid offspring of century old art of letter writing and modern technology of internet. As such, a few aspects of letter writing are seen to have been diluted in email. With spread of internet, our skill of formal writing is unfortunately eroding day by day. Writing an email which engages the attention of the receiver and evokes expected response is an important skill. Here are a few tips on what it takes to write an effective email:

  1. Collect the information (and sometime records also) on the subject matter and thoroughly appreciate the facts and purpose of writing (rather say sending) the email.
  2. Identify “ To”  addressee (the main recipients to whom it is to be sent)  which is generally easy but identifying “CC” and “BCC” addressee needs application of mind. As endorsing an email by CC and BCC is quite easy, we are tempted to distribute it to unrelated parties, and some time indiscriminately. We must bear in mind that in spite of all precautions, digital matter has great propensity to reach anywhere.
  3. Subject line is very important. It is like a visage of a person or a facade of a building. It should sound attractive but also should comprehend the essence of the email. A “complete sentence” as subject line is not a good idea. Prefer a succinct phrase, e.g. rather than Please make travel arrangement for my visit to Head Office write Travel arrangement for visit to Head Office. The subject is very important if the email is sent to an unknown recipient or it is sent for sales promotion. A well phrased subject line prompts the recipient to open the email.
  4.  The content of the body of the email starts with salutations/greetings. An appropriate salutation will make the recipient feel like read the content of the body. Depending upon the official relation or familiarity with recipient, salutation words/phrase is to be chosen. Do not choose words which might offend the recipient or indicates that you are not careful in salutation. In official email  Dear Sir/Dear Madam (any one when the gender is known) or Dear Sir/Madam (when the gender is not known) is considered an appropriate salutation. When the recipient is of equal or lower in rank, Dear Mr (Surname) can also be used.  Mind the spelling of surname. In salutation, do not use the words: To whomsoever it may concern, Dear All, Hi there!, Hello, Hi Guys, etc in a formal email. Any of these will be considered perfunctory by the recipient.
  5. You can also add a line: Kind: Attention ____________ ______ , particularly when the email is sent to a big organisation and you know the person by whom the matter is being dealt with. However, it is also to be borne in mind that some employees are averse to such marking in their name. 
  6. Introduce your organisation if the recipient unaware about the same.
  7. Now the most crucial part of the email begins, i.e. the main body of the email:
Give reference of the /trailing email/previous email/ correspondence/conversation, if any  and making it a stepping stone, state more facts and further developments, if any, in the matter. If there is no previous reference to be discussed/quoted, introduce the matter with facts and why the issue has come up. Be brief. Mind well, brevity should not be at the cost of clarity because what clarity you have about the matter as a “man on the spot”, the same level of clarity should not be presumed from the receiver.  Explore the possibility whether the presentation of the matter in tabular format will help the recipient to comprehend the matter quickly. Supporting documents should, making an allusion (mention) to this effect in the body itself, be furnished as attachment rather than narrating them in full details in the body of the email. The body should be divided into 2 – 3 paragraphs as per the main focus / purport of the matter to be presented in the paragraph. 

The ultimate aim of writing the email is to get the receiver convinced to initiate certain actions and induce him/her to do the same. The penultimate (the last but one) paragraph of the main body of the email will present this request (also called submission). This paragraph generally begins with one of such signpost phrases e.g. In view of the above, we request/advise you to do so and so forth  or We, therefore, request/advise you to do so and so forth.
  1. Closing (concluding) the email is also equally important as this last portion will be attracting the reader’s attention most. The closing line should be in consonance with the gist of the matter in the main body and the position of the receiver and sender. Generally any one of  following lines go in the closing part:
- Looking forward to hearing from you soon.
- Looking to your favourable response / response.
- Should you need more information, please let us know.
- Thanking you in anticipation.
-Please keep us posted with the developments.
-We assure you to resolve the issue in due course.
- I look forward to hearing from you soon
       9.   Expression of gratitude / appreciation (just above the and Signature)

             A customary phrase is added, particularly when the recipient is in higher position or    
             not so familiar with the sender. These phrases could be one of the of the following as per    
             “circumstances” of the email:

·         Thanking you
·         Thanks for your time
·         Thanking you in anticipation
·         Thanks for acceding to my/our request
·         Thanks (sounds very terse, should be avoided for seniors)
·         Thanks for consideration
·         Thanks for kind consideration
·         I/We appreciate your help and thank you a lot
·         Thanks and Regards / Thanks and Kind Regards/ Warm Regards (When you want to show respect to the receiver)
·         With Best Regards
·         Keep it up (to encourage the juniors while responding to a good work done)
·         This could not have been possible but for your kind support / guidance / co-operation

    10.    Signature (also called Valediction / Sign Off), Name, Mob No., E mail ID
            There are elaborate rules when you sign a letter. However, in the case of email, norms are    
            “Dynamic” :  following the full set rules  as followed in the  case of a letter or just putting –
            (Your Name) or vibrant and vivid automatically added Signature  
            Block (which itself could be a good topic for full length blog) with photographs, 
            Companylogo, Product  Banner, etc. However, formality   should be followed 
            when the email receiver is a  senior person or a  valued customer. 
           Yours faithfully, and after single line space, your name. Add your Mobile Number,
           Designation, Company Name, website of the Company.

11.     Spell check the email. Do it carefully as Spell Check function of the system can not be relied upon fully.

12.     Format the email properly : Indent, Line spacing, Font type, size, bold, italics, colour etc. 
          Do not use ALL CAPITALS for 
          entire sentence. Do not use fancy and / or cursive fonts. Use bold, italics, colour  sparingly.

Compare your past 2 – 3 emails in the backdrop of what have been discussed above and check yourself as to how do you fare.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2019



You never get a second chance to make a first impression.     
-      Andrew Grant (British Author)

First impression is the last impression. How much time one takes to form the first impression of the other person? A study by researchers says, about seven seconds. Sad but true. “Registration” of your impression in perceiver’s mind takes only few second but it lasts for a long period. How the other person interacts with you largely depends on the impression you make on his mind. What are the factors go into making your first impression that gets wrought in the perceiver’s mind?  For how long first impression remains registered in perceiver’s mind? For a very long  time. At times it might happen that you yourself are indifferent to your own first impression which other persons might carry but your near and dear, peers or boss would not allow you such latitude. They will prevail upon you as to how to dress, behave and conduct so that their own impression is not spoiled! This is enough to drive the point home: Making a Better First Impression that lasts longer is very important for everybody irrespective of one’s age and status. Some people quote the example of great personalities as to how indifferent they were about their impression. My answer to them is, “Yes, you can also follow these eminent personalities but only after you achieve the greatness they have achieved”.

Factors those make your First Impression:

1.  Punctuality:

If you are going to meet a person face to face, take the appointment in advance. Reach in time as per the appointed time. If you are not able to reach in time, inform accordingly. Request for re-scheduling the appointment should be avoided as far as possible. 

2. Dress:

An English idiom says, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” but contrary to the idiom, man intuitively judges the person by dress. What dress is best suited depends upon multiple factors: occasion, status, age, season, etc. When on official duty, wear formal dress. Outward appearance is the main cue that prompts the other person to make or mar your first impression, even before you speak a word or move a step. 

3. Personal Grooming: 

If you shave, well shaven face is a basic thing. If you are sporting a beard, keep it trimmed and tidy. Good oral hygiene. Ornaments? Only a finger ring or better none. No overt tattoo, preferably no tattoo. For females, light make up and minimum ornaments as per the applicable custom are advisable. 

4. Smile:

Smile is the cheapest but most precious ornament a man can wear. Flash a smile as soon as you have eye contact. It pre-empts the other person’s negative though process about your first impression.

5. Handshaking:

Shake hand with enthusiasm and a broad smile. If handshaking is not practical, greet with the words Good Morning, Good Afternoon, etc. If you are knowing (which is desirable) the surname, address the person with surname and with or without suffixing Sir/Madam (depending upon the hierarchy) while greeting the person. Presenting a bouquet on special occasions is also in fitness of the things. In a social gathering, elderly people deserve more respect irrespective of culture or country. In India, greeting them with folded hands and saying Namaste is a usual practice and if you are holding them in high respect, bowing and touching their feet is a sure shot. 

6. Conversation:

Confine to relevant points. Speak clearly with confidence. Establish eye contact while talking. Speak at an audible pitch. Be a good listener. In case of difference of opinion, raise your width and depth of arguments supported with logic and data and not the voice. Use appropriate business / technical terminology which will reflect your professional knowledge. For meaningful conversation, get yourself ready beforehand with facts and figures. Use the language with which you both are comfortable. Remain attentive. Do not play with any object e.g. button of your shirt, wrist-watch, mobile, hair, etc. After the conversation is over, summarize the action points and note down them. If you need the visiting card or contact number, ask for it with politeness. Talk politely irrespective of your position. Courtesy begets courtesy. While talking over phone or mobile, be extra careful as the person at the other end will judge you only on your “audio” because your no visual cues are available. 

7. Positivity:

Talk with positive approach. It will kindle positivity in your counter-part. Talking positive does not mean only saying good things and avoiding conflict of opinion. It is your mental approach to the problem. Say glass is half full rather than saying half empty. 

8. Humility:

Do not boast about your knowledge and achievements.  If the other person is appreciating your knowledge/achievements, thank him and pass on the credit to your colleagues and seniors. 

9. Gestures and Postures:

Avoid awkward gestures and postures while sitting, standing, walking or patting. Gestures and postures with “who cares” approach send negative signals about your personality.

10. Magic words:

Use Please, Thank you, Sorry, Excuse me, Pardon me, May I, Could you please, OK, Hello Sir, Hello Madam, etc as and when etiquette demands. These power-packed tiny words help you a lot to make a better First Impression.

Hope, this reading must have made a very good First Impression about me in your mind but it will not help you to make that of yours until you constantly, consistently and consciously strive to internalize the 10 Commandments discussed above. Anyway, Good Luck for your determination to take a leaf from a person whose first impression has impressed you most. 

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