Want to write clearer business emails in English in less time?
My top 5 tips will help you spend less time on writing great business emails in English
You know the feeling – checking your emails in English multiple times before sending them to colleagues and clients. You want your English to be almost perfect and, of course, you want your email to sound professional!
In today’s world where English is generally the language of international business, non-native English speakers spend a lot of time revising their emails before sending them to clients and colleagues around the world.
When training my clients to write better e-mails in English, I notice that they spend most of their time trying to make sure that there are no grammar errors. This is something they have usually learned to do in school or in previous language courses and, don’t get me wrong, this is great. However, 9 out of 10 times they fail to do an equally important editing task – to check that what they have written is clear and easy to understand.
When I ask trainees to edit the email again, this time focussing on clarity, they always identify some areas where they can make the email clearer and more concise. Here at AllTalk Training we shift the focus from grammatically perfect writing to clear and professional writing – this is English training to get the job done efficiently!
After all, the most important thing for the recipient of your email is the clarity of your message. I can assure you that they will hardly notice grammar errors that do not have an impact on comprehension. A grammatically perfect email without a clear message will cost more time and draw more attention to your level of English than an email that clearly conveys your message, despite perhaps having a small grammatical mistake… or two!
Follow my 5 tips to get the best out of your business emails in English and to reduce the time you spend trying to perfect them:
1. Use a spellchecker
Nowadays, Google products check your spelling so that you can reduce mistakes with minimal effort. Microsoft Outlook also has a spelling and grammar checking function – just make sure you also have it set up for English.
Another fantastic tool is Grammarly. This does even more than the standard spellchecker with Google or Outlook. You simply install it on your browser and on Windows and you are ready to go.
2. Write short sentences
English native speakers generally love short sentences. In fact, long sentences are often seen as unnecessary and complicated. Writing short, clear sentences will not only help you write with fewer grammatical errors, they will also help you to express your ideas clearly making it easier for your recipient to know exactly what you want.
3. Try not to translate directly
Don’t let your native language interfere with what you know sounds good or correct in English. Avoid translating directly from your native language and be careful when using online translating tools – they are much better nowadays; however, the lack of understanding for context and tone often leads to mistranslations and therefore lead to miscommunication.
4. Use a dictionary
Believe it or not, this will actually save you time! If you are not sure that the word you are using is correct or not, but you use it anyway then you risk the other person having to come back to you to clarify what you meant in your email. This is a waste of time for both you and the person you have written to. So, have a dictionary open in your browser at all times so that you can quickly check a word. Check out our blog post on great dictionaries you can use.
5. Become familiar with standard email phrases
‘Yours sincerely’ or ‘Kind regards’, ‘Ms’ or ‘Mrs’? – become familiar with the standard language used in emails so that you don’t waste time trying to find out which word or phrase is appropriate for the email you are writing. Learn the different levels of formality and how and when to use them. This will save you time, help you feel more confident in your email writing, and leave a good impression with the email recipient.
Brigid Farrell, Owner at AllTalk Training
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