There is something about e-mail that fosters poor communication habits. Users see it as a form of instant communication and therefore, doesn’t require the same care and attention that a letter might.
For many organizations, e-mail has become the preferred means of communication, both formal and informal. Here are some tips to make your e-mail as effective and efficient as possible:
- Use short paragraphs. E-mail is generally read from a computer screen. Keep your paragraphs short –50 words or less– to ensure maximum readability.
- Get personal. Use second person terms. Words such as “you”, “your”, and “yours” let the recipient know you’re thinking of them specifically.
- Don’t send spam. This includes forwarding every bad joke and poem your second cousin sends you. People don’t like receiving junk paper mail at home and they don’t like the electronic version either. If you’re building a new relationship with a customer, don’t bury them in your sales spam.
- Check spelling and grammar. You should invest as much effort in checking the content of e-mail as you do any other written communication. A sloppy e-mail message will communicate negatively about your professionalism.
- Include a signature section. Most e-mail software will automate this process for you. Your signature should include your name, job title, contact information, and company name.
- Respond efficiently. Develop at set of personal rules for processing your email in a productive way. Read: Five fast email productivity tips @ 43 Folders
- Ignore the above tips. If you exchange a large number of messages with a particular co-worker, create a set of rules to optimize the way you each process e-mail. You can develop short cuts and templates that bypass some of the above tips and steps because you have worked out you own protocols.
Voice mail is one of the most frustrating aspects of telephone communication; just below navigating automated phone menus. If voice mail is used properly, it can be a highly effective tool. The trick is to ensure your messages clearly communicate all the information need, but no more.
Here are some tips for leaving good voice mail messages along with half a dozen temples you can customize for your own use.
- Write down your voice-mail message before you start. It is easier to read from the page than to try and ad lib.
- Have custom greetings for different circumstances: in meetings, on vacation, business travel, etc. Update your greeting when appropriate.
- Remeber to be professional. You can never be sure who will be calling you. Leave the humourous messages for your home phone.
- Tips for leaving a good out-of-office message
Basic message – limited detail
Hello! You have reached the voice mail of <name>. Please leave a message after the tone, and I’ll contact you. To return to the receptionist, press <number> at anytime.
Basic message – detailed
Hello, you’ve reached the voice mailbox of. Please note, you can bypass this message at any time by pressing. Today is, I am in the office, but I’m either on my phone or away from my desk. Your call is important to me. If you wish, leave a message and I will call you back at my first opportunity. If you need immediate assistance, press to have your call redirected by the receptionist.
Hello, this is <your name> of <company or department name>. I’m not available to take your call, but if you leave your name, number and a brief message, I will get back to you as soon as I can. If you would like to speak with my assistant, please dial <number>.
Hello, you’ve reached the voice mailbox of <name>. Please note, you can bypass this message at any time by pressing <key combination>. Today is <day of week>, <date> I am in the office, but will be in meetings all day. Your call is important to me. If you wish, leave a message and I will call you back at my first opportunity. If you need immediate assistance, press <number> to have your call redirected by the receptionist.
Out of office on business
Hello, you’ve reached the voice mailbox of <name>. Please note, you can bypass this message at any time by pressing <key combination>. Today is <day of week>, <date> I am out of the office on business. If you wish, you can contact me via my cell phone <number> or by e-mail. If you need immediate assistance, press <number> to have your call redirected by the receptionist.
Hello, you’ve reached the voice mailbox of <name>. Please note, you can bypass this message at any time by pressing <key combination>. I am out of the office on vacation until <date>. If you need immediate assistance, press <number> to have your call redirected by the receptionist.
Is your email killing your productivity? Then it’s time for some basic e-mail management. With a few simple steps, you can maintain control over your in-box:
- Use the software: Set up your e-mail client to manage as much of the incoming mail as possible. Create filters to route unnecessary messages past your in-box and into a folder. Make sure your spam settings and databases are active and up to date. The more you automate your e-mail, the less time you spend reading and deleting.
- Turn off your new mail notification: You don’t have to read every piece of e-mail the moment it arrives. Pop-ups, beeps and “you’ve got mail” notifications can be too distracting to ignore. Turn them off!
- Don’t read and respond to each incoming message: Dealing with each e-mail as it arrives can create constant interruption to your work-flow. Set aside time each day where you deal with your e-mail. Have a process —such as this one— for clearing your in-box.
- Manage e-mail during times of lower energy: Don’t deal with e-mail during your most creative or productive times of the day. Processing e-mail doesn’t require much energy. Don’t waste your creative periods on something as routine as e-mail.