Business communication is heavily reliant on emails – an indispensable tool in the business world today. Emails need to be written as clearly as possible to avoid causing confusion with colleagues, partners or stakeholders.
Here are 5 ‘C’s to keep in mind for clear, concise, and competent emails.
- Complete: State your purpose up front and provide the right amount of information. It is a good idea to explicitly state what action will follow and when and who will do it. For example, ‘I am writing to enquire about the new photocopier model manufactured by NEWX.’ We should state the reason for writing in the opening sentence of the email and present all information in a logical order. Here are some quick tips and tasks to start and end emails.
- Clear: Use precise language. e.g. ‘You now have until 31st March to remove all machinery from the site’. Keep it simple so your message cannot be misinterpreted – don’t use big words. Use linking words and paragraphs to logically connect ideas. For more ideas on organising emails, visit Learn English Website.
- Correct: Check your email for grammar and vocabulary. Grammatical accuracy plays a big part in how you come across to the reader and if the message was received as intended. Read it as if you were the recipient – is your message completely clear? Remember, words are powerful, but the right words are dynamite. Our ‘LearnEnglish Grammar’ app for smartphones is a convenient way to practise and improve grammatical accuracy. Get more information about this app here.
- Concise: It is important to use short sentences with no more than one or two ideas in each sentence. Take a look at this sentence: "The recommendation I have, and this is the area which I will now address in this section, is that relating to the issue of whether we need to provide refreshment for the employees of our company. It being my considered opinion that in fact, it would save time if the aforementioned meal could be provided by our company rather than having the employees go outside for any eventual refreshment."
This is certainly not concise and may confuse your reader. Keep your emails crisp with easy to understand messages. Sentence length and big words can distort the message, and if your mail runs to many paragraphs, you likely have a problem! Who has the time to read long-winded emails? A better sentence is: "In order to save time, my recommendation is to provide refreshment to all staff in the office rather than having them go out."
- Courteous: Consider what the tone of the message is and strike the right level of formality. Our relationship with the reader influences our choice of language (formal/informal). When talking to your reader, you need to tailor your writing to fit their specific needs. Even formal emails are expected to be less formal than formal letters, but it is important to know these differences. Our ‘Email writing’ workshop develops email writing skills with a focus on the participants’’ ability to adapt their writing according to the audience, organise information to enhance readability, use plain English and to edit and proofread their own emails.