How to Make Your Email Smile
By Scott Ginsberg
Technology has a tendency to be impersonal and unfriendly - if you let it. Think of the last time you received an email from someone, read it, and said to yourself, “Boy was that a lifeless, mal-prepared, impersonal message - looks like Randy really cares to stay connected with me.”?
You don’t want to be like Randy. You want to make the recipient feel like you’re right there next to them. You want someone to be excited when they receive an email from you. And you want to reassure people that email can be personable, Viagra SPAM notwithstanding.
Email is one of the major mediums of business communication. As such, treat it with the same level of personality you hope to convey through daily, face to face interactions. In other words, if you think of your emails as real conversations, you will elicit real connections. Here are a few ways to make your emails “smile” so you maximize the comfort and engagement of the recipient.
No email will ever beat face to face interaction. But you do enhance the level of friendliness if you write in a conversational tone. Use simple words. They sound genuine. Don’t try to impress someone by thesaurusizing your email with terms you wouldn’t use in person– it sounds diaphanous, limpid, and transpicuous.
Also, don’t be afraid to use one or two word sentences. After all, you use them every day in your face to face conversations – so why is email any different! I suggest exclamations like “Wow!” and “That’s great!” to make the reader feel your presence.
A great acid test for this is to read every email aloud before you send it. When you finish, ask yourself this question: “Does my email make it sound like I am personally engaging with the recipient?” People truly appreciate it when you create a memorable presence.
Use Italics, Boldface and Punctuation!
One of the pitfalls of email its inability to convey emotion. Often your correspondent won’t understand if you are serious or kidding, happy or sad, frustrated or euphoric - unless you are expressive. So use italics to highlight key words that show the person exactly what you want to say. Otherwise, your opinions, statements and stories will be misinterpreted. (The same goes for boldface words)
And no matter what anyone says, exclamation points are awesome! They completely alter the emotion of the sentence. Don’t be afraid to use them. But don’t put one in every sentence! People will think you’re on drugs! And they will freak out! Ahhh!!!!
If there was ever a place in your email to add personality, it’s the subject heading. After all, people get dozens of emails a day – so what do you do to entice them to read yours first? It’s almost like the first impression or ice breaker of your conversation. So, have fun with it! Put something to grab attention like a joke, quotation or an interesting phrase. You have plenty of room too (up to 54 characters), so don’t be afraid to fill up the space.
One of my favorite subject headings is to pose a question related to the body text such as “Why don’t people talk in elevators?” or “Did you see that game yesterday?” Just like your face to face conversations, the difference between a boring and exciting subject heading is all about engagement, i.e., “Hey” vs. “Good morning Paul, how was your weekend?”
Emails Can Smile
The way you write and send your email personifies your attitude, values and interpersonal effectiveness. Unfortunately, friendliness and engagement are the things we sacrifice for technological speed and efficiency. But just because email is faster, doesn’t mean it has to be less friendly. And just because email is sent across the country, doesn’t mean it can’t be engaging.
Therefore, an email that sounds like a person will be treated like a person. If you want illicit excitement, think of your emails as real conversations. Consistently write in a conversational, friendly and engaging tone. Then, the communication within your network will be more personable, fun and memorable - simply because you made your emails smile.
© 2005 All Rights Reserved.
Scott Ginsberg is a professional speaker, "the world's foremost field expert on nametags" and the author of HELLO my name is Scott and The Power of Approachability. He works with people and organizations who want to become UNFORGETTABLE communicators - one conversation at a time. For more information contact Front Porch Productions at http://www.hellomynameisscott.com.
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