5 steps to effective e-mail communication

by Belinda Wan (bwan@sph.com.sg)
published on 30 June 2016

While much has been said about verbal communication in the office, the importance of e-mail etiquette is often overlooked.

Here are tips to take note of when writing e-mails.

1. Check the contents of your e-mail

Rushing through an e-mail only increases the possibility of typos or incomplete information.

Mr Adrian Tan, a career coach and public speaker at a Singapore-based career discovery and transition agency, said: “E-mails should not have a missing, wrong or unprofessional salutation, or an unclear or missing subject header.

“If you do not include a subject header and make the contents of your e-mail relevant, it may get deleted by the other party without even being read.”

2. Respond only when appropriate

Respect others’ time by only sending your reply to relevant parties.

Mr Tan said: “Many office workers often send their e-mail reply to all parties, even when there is no need to. This causes unnecessary confusion and wastes everyone’s time.”

3. Take care with your punctuation and casing of words

Avoid using exclamation marks in your e-mail. Do not type in caps, as it is considered shouting.

4. Be professional

“Never try to be humorous, as your tone can easily be interpreted – more so if you have colleagues from different cultures,” said Mr Tan.

5. Get to the point

If you have taken the trouble to write an e-mail, ensure the recipient is not left in doubt as to what to do after reading it. 

Mr Tan said: “Your e-mail should be clear and concise with an obvious call-to-action, so that the recipient can do the necessary.

“Summarise your content and ensure that each point is clearly articulated before hitting the ‘send’ button.”