Do you really know how to write a professional email?

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Nothing could be easier than sending an e-mail. But for it to be read, and above all, to serve your purpose, there are good practices to know. Two specialists in the matter give you the keys to becoming the king, or queen, of e-mail.

Think before writing …

“With the immediacy aspect of the email, the main mistake of many people is that they start to write as they speak », Notes Sylvie Azoulay, author of Be an email pro (ed. Eyrolles, 2013). To avoid this pitfall, she advises “to structure your ideas, with a simple plan that works most of the time: a first part in the past tense to recall the facts; a second in the present tense to formulate the request; one last in the future to agree on the terms. The whole thing is nested with connecting words, to avoid the simple juxtaposition of ideas: “besides”, “on the other hand”, “on the other hand”. If it is someone with whom you interact frequently, it is possible toexpress your request or question after the greetings, then explain the context again later.

“In the United States, a movement advocates sticking to 5 sentences per email to keep the reader’s attention. A rule that adapts to smartphones and tablets.”

15 lines maximum, 5 sentences ideal

For Aline Nishimata, author of another book on the issue, Knowing how to write your professional emails (ed. Gualino, 2014), “you have to adopt the attitude of journalists when they write a report. In a few lines, the essentials must be informed: who, when, what, where, why. Sylvie Azoulay recommends write “maximum 15 lines, line breaks included. In the United States, a movement called Five Sentences, translate five sentences, advocates sticking to five sentences per email to keep the reader’s attention. A rule on the way to generalize and which adapts to the writing mode of smartphones and tablets.

1 e-mail, 1 idea

Sylvie Azoulay assures him: “ if you have three requests, send three emails, otherwise you can be sure that your interlocutor will only retain the first request and skip the others ”. For the same sake of clarity, do not hesitate to put the most important elements in bold: the date, time and place of a meeting, for example. ” On the other hand, the use of capital letters and exclamation marks is to be avoided. They induce an emotion that is difficult to understand in writing, warns Sylvie Azoulay. Better stick to the facts. The same goes for smileys.

Greet your interlocutor

Sylvie Azoulay recommends “do not forget to greet the person before getting to the heart of the matter. At least a hello. “Other formulas can be adopted depending on the case, as Aline Nishimata explains:” Starting with Madam or Sir allows you to keep a notch of politeness. The choice is made according to the relationship you have with your interlocutor. »Over the course of the discussions, he can evolve from a very formal tone to something more cordial: from Monsieur to Bonjour Monsieur then more simply Bonjour.

Select the recipients

You might have gotten used to it, but “it’s best to avoid the ‘reply to all’ mode of a common mailing. Receiving the answer from each interlocutor is quite annoying and tends to saturate the mailbox…, recalls Aline Nishimata ”. And for her part, Sylvie Azoulay recommends “ select the right people : for an appointment confirmation, for example, you can send the reply to the person who invited you, using the copy function to send the email to the secretary or assistant. The other people summoned do not have to receive your confirmation. ”

Easier to open and find thanks to the object

“The without object is to be avoided, warns Aline Nishimata. You must always enter the subject of the email. For example, for an invitation to interview, indicate it with the date and place where applicable. Sylvie Azoulay completes: “The subject field is the key to opening the email and should be considered as such. My advice: use key words, six at most.

A minimum of politeness

While it is true that e-mail is gradually eliminating the long polite expressions used on postal letters, such as “Please accept, Madam, Sir, my best regards”, this does not prevent know how to greet the person. For Aline Nishimata, “several formulas exist: “best regards”, “best regards”, “best of all”… They can all work. Attention all the same to the “good to you”, which creates a link between the two interlocutors. It implies that you know the person to whom you are addressing the email, or at least that you have already spoken to on several occasions. ”

Neat e-mail, signed e-mail

Finally comes the moment of signing. “Putting only your first name induces an exchange between colleagues or collaborators who know each other,” says Sylvie Azoulay. For a more formal exchange, keep the last name. The most practical is the automatic signature (a block of text always appearing at the end of your e-mails).

Do these rules seem obvious to you? However, by looking in your last sent mails, it is a safe bet that you could improve your messages either in their content, their form or their subject.

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