How to communicate properly using email1. Think of the “subject” line as a “summary” line
Every email has a subject line that many people use to determine whether or not they should read the email, save it or delete it. Think of the subject line as a summary of your email and try to add as much context as possible for the recipient.
For example, instead of just writing “Meeting notes” in the subject line, write a more descriptive subject like “Meeting notes from 2012 Strategic Planning meeting on Nov 10th”. This way the receiver can determine in an instant what to do with the email.
2. Be brief and to the point
Many business professionals are likely to receive over 100 emails a day. If you want your emails to be read, you need to make them brief. Read through the email before you send it and ask yourself if there is any way you can make it shorter and more to the point. In some cases you might want to attach a document with some of the text if you feel this is essential information that needs to be included in the email.3. Make sure follow up actions are clearly articulated
Many emails contain follow up actions assigned to various people. If these actions are hidden in the text they stand a big risk of being missed. Make sure that all action items are clearly articulated with proper ownerships and deadlines. If you add this in a table it’s very easy for everyone to see.4. Check your spelling
In my eyes it’s very unprofessional to send out email messages with spelling errors, especially since most email clients today have built in spell checkers that can help you correct your spelling mistakes.
If you are using Microsoft Outlook 2010 you can enable the option to “Always check spelling before sending” an email. This way you will be prompted if there is a spelling mistake in your text before you send an email – it’s a nice “safety net”.5. Add a signature to your email
Make sure to add a proper business signature to your email. The signature should include your full contact details – including the email address. Make sure that the email hyperlink (mailto:) contains the correct email address. It’s happened numerous times that I’ve clicked an email address link in a signature and the address is someone else’s.6. Add an automatic reply if you are unable to respond
If you are traveling, attending a conference, or just busy on a project and you are unable to respond to email within a reasonable time frame (I would say about one-two business days depending on the nature of your business), I recommend that you add an automatic reply to your email. This sets the right expectations and it enables the sender to contact someone else in case they need to get a rapid response. If you are using Microsoft Outlook 2010 with Microsoft Exchange 2010 you can add different automatic replies inside and outside the organization.
A final note on email communication
As a final note I would like to add that written text always sounds much harsher then the spoken words. You should never write an email to someone when you are upset, you might regret it the day after, and when you do, there is no way to take it back. Also, make sure to be polite, use proper greeting phrases and refrain from using abbreviations or jargon (at least when you are communicating with people outside your organization).