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How to write emails with impact

Sound advice to help you craft professional emails with confidence.

In business, email is a crucial communication channel. It’s fast. It keeps teams updated on projects. It helps us make decisions and improve productivity. It’s a fantastic record-keeper. And it allows us to connect with each other, no matter where in the world we may be. So when you eventually join Barclays, it’s a channel you’ll be using all the time.

One big drawback? It’s all too easy to write emails in the wrong way. Whether you need to email a client, a co-worker or your manager, there are some definite dos and don’ts. Email with confidence using our top tips.

State your subject

Create a subject line that’s concise and descriptive. Vague or generic subject lines aren’t helpful and won’t stand out in an inbox.

Start with a name

How you address a teammate will be different to how you speak to a senior manager, to a client or to someone you haven’t met. Whoever they are though, it’s always best to use their first name if you know it. ‘Dear Elizabeth’ is appropriate for someone senior or someone you haven’t met, whereas ‘Hi Elizabeth’ is fine for someone you know well.

Keep it short…

Keep your email direct and to the point while covering all the key information. Busy people with packed inboxes don’t have time to read long winded emails. And research suggests that interest in email content diminishes as the reader scrolls further down. So make sure you tell your recipients what they need to know quickly and concisely. Use bullets when possible – they’re easier to skim. And add lots of paragraph breaks. They make your email easier to read.

…but not blunt

However, there’s a fine line between being concise and sounding rude. Compare ‘Karim, I need those files urgently or I’ll miss my deadline. Alison’ with ‘Hi Karim, Thanks for tracking down those files. Could you please send them over to me by 5pm so I don’t miss my deadline? Many thanks, Alison.’

Think about who really needs to know

Always CC the fewest people necessary to get the job done. And use ‘Reply All’ only when you really need to. Clogging the whole department's inbox is never a good idea.

Never use capitals

IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU’RE SHOUTING. And while we’re at it, avoid using emojis too.

Use the right sign-off

Signing off with ‘Sincerely’ or ‘Regards’ works well when emailing with people outside the organization. You can use less formal sign-offs, like ‘Thanks’, for people you work with. And if you can add a timely touch such as ‘have a nice weekend’, or a personal note such as ‘enjoy the movie’, all the better.

Hit the pause button

Before you click send, take a few minutes out. Then reread your email for tone, spelling, punctuation and meaning. Are you saying what you meant to? Do you sound professional? Remember you can use the structure and tone of emails you’ve received as a guide. If you’re still not sure whether your email is accomplishing what you want it to, it never hurts to ask a colleague to review it.

Should you email at all?

Emails are a valuable business tool. But sometimes a quick chat is all that’s needed. At Barclays we encourage people to pick up the phone or grab a coffee together. It’s often more productive – and more fun.