Professional Email Writing 101 | Freelance Circus | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Welcome to the Course


    • 2.

      Know Your Audience


    • 3.

      Acronyms and Numbers


    • 4.

      Pronoun Usage


    • 5.



    • 6.



    • 7.

      Priority 1: Be Respectful


    • 8.

      Priority 2: Be Cautious With Humor


    • 9.

      Priority 3: Reply to Every Email


    • 10.

      Priority 4: Use Basic Fonts


    • 11.

      Eliminate Slang and Contractions


    • 12.

      Use Action Verbs


    • 13.

      Avoid Saying “I’m Sorry”


    • 14.

      Avoid Saying “I Feel”


    • 15.

      Avoid Saying “I Just”


    • 16.

      The “Call to Action” Sandwich


    • 17.

      The Body of Your Email


    • 18.

      Writing a “Call to Action” Subject Line


    • 19.

      Using CC, BCC, and Reply All


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About This Class

Our culture has adopted a relaxed, conversational way of communicating that is often punctuated with acronyms and slang. While this laid back style certainly has a time and place, the ability to communicate professionally is a skill everyone should work to master. 

This course is perfect for anyone that:

  • Works in a client-facing position
  • Is an employee responsible for communicating with team members
  • Is a freelancer that needs to interface with clients and vendors
  • Owns a business 
  • Provides services or products to customers
  • Is actively seeking employment

Professional email writing is a skill that anyone can learn. While there are many nuanced facets to writing a compelling, grammatically correct email, this course covers the basics you need to get started writing text that is detailed, professional, error-free, slang-free, and engaging. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Freelance Circus

Empowering freelancers across the globe


We train, equip and support freelancers to tackle their project and client management, find work, and build on their skill sets. A rising tide raises all ships and we believe strongly in the power of helping independent workers worldwide create dependable incomes to they can support their families and do meaningful, fulfilling work in the process.

See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Welcome to the Course: Hello and welcome to the professional email writing course. I'm stoked that you're here, and I'm excited to teach you everything that I've learned in the last 15 years of being a professional writer and to help you understand how to take your emails from conversational to professional. It's an important skill that everyone needs to have. No matter if you're an employee, a business owner. Ah, freelancer. Everyone needs to be able to write professional, succinct, brief to the point emails that convey respect and that are easy to read and easy to understand, even just at a quick glance, whether you're flipping through on your phone or whatever it may be. I'm incredibly excited about the documents that are attached to this course, so make sure that you download the sample emails, the worksheets, everything so that you are up and running and ready to go. To put this into practice in your own work and in your own personal life. So with that said, let's dive in 2. Know Your Audience: before we get into the actual verb, ege and structure of professional email writing, it's really important that we talk about knowing your audience. There is a huge difference between your colleagues, your peers, those that you're on, the same working level with and those that are in a position of authority over you. Whether that is your clients, whether that is managers with whether that is the owner of the company. Okay, how you communicate and the level of professionalism that you need to bring to your email writing should increase the further away from you and the the further above you that the people you're communicating with our. So how you communicate via writing with your colleagues might be very different from how you communicate with a client, which might also be very different with the tone that you take with a supervisor. So knowing your audience and knowing who you're talking to, who you're writing, Teoh is going to get you a long way in achieving the professional tone that is right for the situation 3. Acronyms and Numbers : Let's talk about acronyms and numbers. Now acronyms are a series of letters, sometimes even numbers that are used in place of the longer word or freeze that it stands for. So M I a. Missing in action a w o l absent without leave right ASAP. Whatever that may actually stand for, I don't know. But the point is, is that in your professional email writing, it is rarely ever acceptable just to use acronyms and abbreviations like that. If you are going to introduce those into your writing, you need to first use the long form, word or phrase, and then you can use the shorter acronym. But by and large, it is much more professional to just write these things out. The exception to this rule would be, let's say, that you are writing an email that is just a quick exchange between colleagues, and maybe you're working on a project that has a lot of really intense technical terms, and you guys choose to use thes shortened terms to get your point across more quickly. In that case, it's acceptable. But if you're writing an email of inquiry to a client or if you are sending out. Ah, cold marketing email. Try your best to stay away from acronyms and from abbreviations like this. The same goes for numbers. There is a time and place to just put the number two instead of spelling out tw o, for example. But the biggest thing that you want to avoid with numbers is flip flopping back and forth. So if I'm typing out a sentence, for example, and I say the date is July 7th 2 won t 20 and the meeting that we're going to is going to be at two PM on Wednesday, the 23rd of the following week. You want to keep it consistent, so if your spelling out your numbers, spell out your numbers. If you're just listing the individual number, then do that throughout. You want to avoid spelling out the number two and then having a number 22 just written out further on in your sentence. So consistency is the key here to professional email writing. When it comes to acronyms to numbers T any of this, just making sure that you are doing the same thing over and over again and not wish washing back and forth one way or the other. 4. Pronoun Usage: in this video. We're gonna talk about pronouns now. Pronouns are words like He him, her, them us. And they are used in place of people's names in sentences. So if I was going to say I'm going to John's House here lives at 47 0 Brian Lane. Okay, he is in the place of saying John again. This can be very, very useful as it avoids the repetitious usage of names. You know, we're going to John's house. John lives at 27. Would Brian Lane John's houses brown? John drives a Ferrari? Okay, so we want to avoid that excessive name usage, and that's where pronounce King can come in handy. However, I would caution you to stay away from personal pronouns as much as possible. Now, personal pronoun would be using I, um or you, because those are very relational terms and they're not overly professional, depending on the way in which the which you're using them. If you are using the word I ah, lot. The tone that that email is going to convey is going to be one of, um, introspection for yourself versus outwardly placing it. For example, if I am sending an email to my boss because of an issue I'm having at work. And if I am typing things like I think that Derrida or I feel Donetta it can come across as very accusatory or very intense. Instead of saying something like in a situation like this, someone may feel like the pronoun usage being someone. Okay, you're so referring to yourself, but you are removing it. It's more of 1/3 person perspective and it can cause what you're saying to be taken a little bit more easy instead of so direct. I feel this way You did this instead of this happened, a person might take it this way, right? So finding ways to communicate that maybe take the perspective and the pressure off of I and you and how can we reframe not to be more inclusive unless authoritative Um, no. Again, as with everything, there is always a time in place to where I and you is appropriate. But whenever possible, especially if you're working with the team to speak in general terms, the general, we, the general you Ah, And in doing so, it makes her much more inclusive email writing experience. Ah, more inclusive tone that is often less pressuring, often less intense and often, depending on the reader, depend on your audience more engaging for them as well. 5. Punctuation : So in this gusting professional punctuation and grammar, it's important to discuss punctuation itself. Now there are books that have been written to teach grammar and punctuation, but for the purpose of this course, we're going to cover the three kind of big ticket items. When it comes to professional punctuation. The first is using the Oxford comma. The second is how to utilize quotation marks within the body of your email, and the third is avoiding parentheses and run on sentences whenever possible. So let's dig into this example here. We've got our subject line. We've got our intro salutation. We've got our first sentence here that has our call to action. And then we've got the body of our email. So within this, an Oxford comma is essentially a comma that goes before the word. And whenever there is a series of three or more things. So what does this look like right here where we say, I am confident that your attention to detail here professional communication skills and your Iife organization will serve you well in this client facing position. So we have three things. The writer is confident that number one, the attention to detail number two, the professional Communication skills and number three, The eye for organization. These are the three items in a list, and the Oxford comma is this little guy right here. Now a lot of people eliminate this, but in order for it to be grammatically correct and professional, you need to make sure that this comment is always included. It may seem like a little thing, but when you're talking about high level written communication, it's important to notice that even the smallest things can carry big weight. It speaks to your knowledge of proper writing and grammar, and it speaks to your ability to pay attention to the to the smallest of details in your rating. So let's move on to the next thing. Quotation marks. So down here we have the writer saying, As Helen Keller said, Alone, we can do so little. Together we can do so much now that is a direct quote, and as such, it needs what we call quotation marks. These little guys right here at the beginning of the end of the quoted material. But what do we dio with the comma here and the period here? Well, as you can see the comma that comes before the quote is outside of it. This quote, quote mark, is nestled right up against the A here and then at the end, this ending punctuation. It goes on the inside. So here you have it out, and here you have it in. And the reason for that is they are essentially two separate parts of the same sentence. So this intro thing here that says, as Helen Keller said, It's it's own standalone thing. So the comma here kind of denotes where that that punctuation buffer is. And then from here, all the way to here is its own succinct thought. And so this ending punctuation needs toe always go inside. The quote marks never on the outside. That's just another really small, attention to detail piece that's going to elevate your writing and really give it that professional polish that we're going for. All right, so lastly, we're going to avoid parentheses whenever possible, and I don't have a sample for that here. All I'm saying is, just don't use parentheses. If you feel like you need to put ah little side thought in parentheses, don't just put a period, make it its own sentence the end. But let's talk about run on sentences and fragments. So a run on sentence is a sentence that goes on and on and on and on and often doesn't have appropriate verb subject agreement. So, for example, we can break this right here. If we took this these first couple sentences right here. We're gonna copy when we're going to bring him down here. All right. After your first week shadowing Mark, we will begin working you into direct client and project management. If I took this period out and just continued on my thought stream of consciousness style, that would be a run on sentence. After your first week shadowing Mark, we will begin working you into direct client and product management. Right now, I have two projects will be ready and waiting for you. One is the website development project that is in phase two and one is a brand new logo design project that will kick off next Thursday. Not only is that a mouthful, but it's also confusing. Okay, because you go from saying working you in a direct client of party management right now. Is it? Is it you're working it in right now or right now I have it just it creates confusion and you end up with with subject verb, um, continuity issues as well. So she's talking in this first sentence after your first week, and then she goes to talking about I have. So it's important to split those two thoughts. And if you don't again, it's just so very, very confusing for the reader, and it's not very professional at all, so make sure that we have no run on sentences and you also want to avoid fragments of fragment is a sentence that does not convey a complete thought. So it would be like just saying welcome or like saying is there and just leaving it as that Now Fragments are a lot easier to avoid than run on sentences simply because most of us who have gone through a certain level of schooling know that you have to have a complete thought for it to be a sentence. But the run on sentences are a little bit more nuanced, and at the end of the day, if you have a question about whether or not the sentence that you're trying to put together , is too long and convoluted or not. Just play it safe, give a period, and there start a fresh thought. It's it's better to have a bunch of really short succinct to the point sentences back to back to back than it is to have a long, rambling novel that your reader is gonna have a very difficult time understanding. 6. Proofreading: No discussion about professional punctuation and grammar would be complete without talking about the importance of proof reading proof, reading, going over what you've written and making sure that it is error free because nothing is more unprofessional than copy that is just riddled with errors. Whether it's spelling capitalisation, punctuation problems, you name it. If you haven't taken the time to even just give a brief once over of what you've written, the chances of you sending something to someone else that has an air in it is incredibly high. Why? Because when we type and write and read over things that we've written, we see what we meant to say, and sometimes that blinds us to what is actually there. So the first step to proof reading your professional email copy is to just go through it with your eyes. If you're drafting and word like I am right now, you'll notice that commonly misspelled words are underlined in red, so it's important to go through that, and then all you have to do is right. Click and hit auto, correct, or you can tap on forward right here. Okay, same down here. That's an easy, quick way and often it will also underline things in green that it denotes as possibly being a correctly spelled word but used in the wrong context. So in this case, coming and board, we wanted to say, coming on board. So that's the first thing. Now what do we dio if we've read through it? We think it's good, but we're not sure where. Maybe we're not editing or not writing an inward so we don't have that handy dandy underneath. You know, Red underline. How can we get an outside perspective quickly to make sure that we're sending error free emails? Well, one of the best tools that I know out there is called Graham early. You can install it, um, directly to your toolbar. And as you're drafting your emails, whether you're in Gmail or Outlook, it will automatically recognize if you are smelling things incorrectly and it will alert you and will help you correct it just right there in your email editor. It's an incredible tool, and another thing that you can do with it is in the desktop app for Graham early. You can actually copy and paste content, so if you've drafted your email in word or in a text editor. You can do it. I'm going to do right now, and you could just copy and paste. Bring it over here and you can paste it in and see what the Graham really program has to say. So when a paste it in and right away, you see that it comes up with these goal setting Because Graham Early does so much more than just a proof reader documents. It helps you decide if the tone is correct. So I'm studying my audience. It's an email. So it's a general audience. K the formality. I want a level of formality. It will restrict slang and colloquialisms. K. The tone that I'm going for is joyful, respectful, friendly. There's many that you could do. I'm gonna put joyful. The intent is to inform, Okay, and then I'm going to hit, done and right away. Boom! I can see I have six alerts over here. My overall scores 86 will get into that here in a second. I can see that I have six alerts regarding spelling, grammar and punctuation. The clarity of my email is very clear. They raided to be very engaging and the delivery is hitting just the right tone. So I come over here and right off the bat, I can see this is highlighted. OK, manage should be manages. And that's something that's very easy to overlook with just a visual proof read. Because again, I'm going to see what I meant to say. And very often I will overlook the fact that I've missed an s here. So you just click here, it will automatically adjust it and you move on to the next one. So and it wants to correct my spelling ready and waiting Another very common misspelled error in writing. Next, Brad, instead of brand, they want a space in between 9 a.m. And then right here think is blow for you records. It should be your records. And again, that is a common one that it is very difficult to catch when you're just reading through. Seen what you meant to say? So we're gonna fix that. It's recalculating this here. Okay, we're gonna click this and right away it's gonna give me my text score. The score is how Graham early assesses the quality of writing in the document. So the higher this percentage. The more professional, the writing. It tells me how long the reading time is. It tells me how many characters, how many words, how many sentences? OK, my average sentence length and then down here is where it gets really interesting. It tells me how Maney unique words that's the vocabulary diversity. Now the higher this score, the more high level professional language that you're using in your in your email and then down here, rare words. This is the depth of vocabulary. This is words that are not among the 5000 most common English words. Okay, we're gonna close this and I personally don't use the premium version of Graham early. But if you chose to upgrade and pay for that, it would tell you things like passive voice misuse things like compound and complex sentence issues, things like that that aren't necessarily dealbreakers when it comes to professional writing . But depending on how intensely you want to refine your emails, it may be worth it to you to upgrade to this additional information. So now all you have to do is just copy and paste this text into your email editor and you're good to go knowing that the email that you are sending out its professional, it's air free. It's easy to read, and it conveys exactly the tone and the content that you want your reader to be able to read and understand. 7. Priority 1: Be Respectful : Let's talk about professional email etiquette. Our first priority is being respectful, and that comes into play in in various scenarios. First, being a respectful to colleagues, people that you work with people who you are by and large on the same professional level as you're equally ranked, so to speak. It's so very important that whenever you're you are corresponding with your colleagues, via email or any other you know, correspondents that you have even face to face that you are conveying a respectful tone whether or not you like them. Okay, you know it's your you're not always going to get along with people that you work with. You're not always going to agree or see eye to eye with with people that you work with. But it's very, very important that the tone that you write in always puts respect at the forefront, making sure that the the reader understands that you value their time. You value their experience. You appreciate what they are contributing to your to the team, to your company, Um, and especially when there's a conflict and if you are writing to them to express a disagreement with something that they've done or to call to their attention and care that has been made okay, to take the opportunity to first respect who they are. Because if you come from a position of that honor in that respect, they're going to be much more apt to hear what you have to say and take it in appropriate and good way instead of getting their feelings hurt and becoming upset and it turning into a nasty exchange over email. So an example of this could be, Let's say that I have to email one of my colleagues to let them know that they missed a deadline. And now a client is upset. Okay, I have two choices. I can start my email by saying, Hey, so and so yesterday you didn't email Mrs Glenn the assets that she needed. She's very upset. Everyone has had to cover for you to get it figured out. Make sure that this doesn't happen again because it makes all of us look bad. Okay, all of that may be true. It might be true. You may be justified and saying it, but when you use those words K saying this happened, you did this. This is how we feel. Don't let it happen again. Okay? That tone is accusatory. And right away, the person receiving that email is going to feel defensive. They may even feel like they have to dash reply back to justifying how they acted and maybe even trying to blame shift. Okay, you want to nip all that in the but And how you do that is by starting with respect. So instead of just coming right to the point, a better option would be to say, Hey, coworker, I'm sure it was a complete accident, right? I'm sure that this was just a simple oversight, but this happened. Okay, Mrs Blend, her assets weren't delivered. How can I help you so that this doesn't happen again? I you know, you know, this is completely out of the ordinary, for you give Grace. Okay. Um, you are normally a very good timekeeper. Your you normally never missed deadlines, you know, Wanted to make sure first and foremost everything's OK, right? How can I help? Second of all, how can we help me fix this problem together? The tone of that honoring their contributions, recognizing the fact that this isn't a normal practice for them sets. The tone sets the stage for this to be much more respectful, even keel exchange, even though you are calling them out on a mistake that they made. Now, let's shift gears for a second. Let's say that you are not in an email exchange with a coworker, but you are in an email exchange with a superior. In many ways, if you're emailing a boss or a manager, it's automatically a little bit easier to convey that respectful tone because of their position of authority over you. Your daily interactions with them are typically going to be less casual, less conversational, less direct than they would be with a colleague. So that's already really built into your communication. But it's still very important to make sure that any time that you are emailing back and forth with someone who is up the food chain up the ladder from you, that you are being as respectful as possible. On the one hand, every interaction that you have with these people is something that they're going to remember if and when an opportunity to advance. Then the company comes up beyond that. Okay, Beyond that, it's incredibly important that you recognize that the person that is in a managerial position over you has so much more to think about than just whatever problem you you're bringing to their attention. So if if you have to let them know that a coworker dropped the ball or if you have to let him know that you've dropped the ball or if there's an ongoing conflict that you are trying to mediate and work through with them being able to be respectful to be understanding with the words that you choose, it's going to go a lot way into diffusing a potentially volatile situation. And again, not that not everyone is going to approach their email writing with this kind of level headed, um, perspective. So it's very, very likely that you will be faced with people who are hostile in the way that they're writing. They may be accusatory towards you, and you have an opportunity with your responses and the way that you write to really tone that down and to help the situation kind of get back to a more respectful place. Um, lastly, let's talk about if you are emailing clients, this this should go without same. If you are communicating with someone that you work for, or a customer a client. That old adage of the customer is always right may not ring completely true. We know customers and clients can be very wrong. But it's the heart of that phrase of treating them like they deserve good things. They deserve to be heard. They deserve to have a say and to be respected. That is what we want to convey. So making sure that you're signing off your emails with you No, thank you. It's it's It's a pleasure working with you. Um, I appreciate your time. Ah, I respect you mean. However, you choose to say it take every opportunity, every opportunity that you have to just honor and respect and validate the people who help you pay your bills. So all right, that's it for this video. We'll see you in the next one. 8. Priority 2: Be Cautious With Humor: So the next thing that we need to discuss when we're talking about email etiquette and tone is whether or not we should use humor in our email writing. And a lot of people are on the fence about this. Ah, there's a school of thought that thinks that there's never, ever, ever ah, place for humor and joking around in a professional email setting. And then there is kind of the new school of thought that says, Well, keeping things light, adding a bit of levity depending on your audience may well be appropriate. So let's discuss both options here. The view behind not using humor is backed by the perspective that professional email writing should be directed to the point. OK, you're trying to value the person who was reading your email. You're trying to value their time and get the point across as quickly and as distinctly as possible. So peppering in jokes or humor often detracts from that and ends up adding unnecessary length to what you're writing dumb, depending on who you're communicating with as well, whether it's a boss or a client, it's very, very likely that the humor aspect would be inappropriate, a swell. It's a little bit of a gray area if you're communicating with colleagues, because again, if it's someone that you work with on a daily basis, you likely have a very conversational, relaxed workers work relationship anyway, which would potentially lend itself to more of that. That humor being peppered in. Now let's talk about the flip side. So if you are going to put anecdotes and jokes and whatnot in your emails, make sure that they are not offensive. Okay, this isn't the time in place to make your mama joke or anything like that. Okay, keep it clean, keep it classy and keep it on point, because the the line is so thin between what is appropriate in the workplace and what isn't and what could be misconstrued and taken out of contacts and taken the wrong way. But it's always best to just air on the side of caution and decorum. So if you find yourself wanting to use humor and levity as as a way to communicate a point or to convey a more relaxed tone in your e mails, feel free to go ahead. But again, take it with a grain of salt and make sure that you are not over inserting that humor in places where it might not be appropriate. 9. Priority 3: Reply to Every Email: So the third priority that we need to talk about in discussing proper professional email etiquette is the importance of replying to every single email that you receive, even if there is no hard and fast call to action within the email, One of the biggest reasons that we do this is it lets the person who sent the email know that you did in fact receive it. There are there have been so many times I know that I have sent an email and days go by and I'm like, Did did they even get it? You know, And it's so refreshing to just get a quick email back saying, Hey, thinks I got this all review and I'll get back to you later or whatever that response, maybe it it's communicates to me that a that person values my time be they value my feelings, okay, because they wanted me to know that they received it so that I had peace of mind. Both of these things are very professional, and they take hardly any of your time. Okay, another really important thing that replying to every email that you get does for you is it helps you keep your email inbox clean. I know that when I go and I looked through my email. If it is unready, if it's still bold ID, I know that I have yet to deal with it. And so it helps keep me on track so that I know if I've opened it, I have responded to it. And if there's more than I need to do with it, if there is a hard and fast call to action, if there's a document I need to send, if there's something if there's a question that I need to answer for a client, then I can flag that email for future use. But I know that I have immediately and efficiently responded to that email and let that person know I did in fact receive it and thank you for your time and I'll get back to you soon. Doing this is going to create a habit for you so that you become accustomed to quickly replying to emails when they come through your inbox so that you avoid email overload. There's nothing worse than getting buried with dozens of email by the end of the week, and you know you have to respond to it. That could be kind of emotionally crippling on and stressful. So we want to eliminate that stress, and it also puts you in the habit of being a fast communicator. And what that does is it holds everyone around you to, ah, high standard of communication as well, because believe it or not, sometimes you will be put in the position where you have to train colleagues and clients to respond quickly to the emails that you send out. And if you're always on the ball, quick to respond, even just a quick Hey, I got this. Thanks so much, it's going to train them that that's what you expect in return. And that's a really, really valuable skill for you to cultivate in yourself, because it's going to make your life a lot easier down the road. 10. Priority 4: Use Basic Fonts: Let's talk about another email etiquette priority, and that is using basic months. Okay, A professional email is no place to get creative and crazy and try out wing dings and getting, you know, using handwriting, fonts and and all of that. No, no, no, no, That is not professional. You want to keep it as simple as possible. Aerial Helvetica times New Roman calibri thes air All great, Very standard across the board fonts. They're easy to read, and they convey a very professional, even keel feeling. If you feel like you need to express yourself and be creative, okay, this isn't the place You've got a tone that down and find a creative outlet somewhere else . Maybe take up in art class or start doing yoga something. But a professional typed out email needs to be cooked clearly legible, with a very, very simple font. That is the best choice that you could make 11. Eliminate Slang and Contractions : When you're writing a professional email, you need to take very, very close consideration to the types of words and the vocabulary that you're using. Specifically. Slang terms and contractions are two things that you need to completely eliminate from your writing in order to have it come across as being professional and well thought out. So let's dig into this a little bit deeper. What exactly is sling? Well, the definition for slang is a type of language that consists of words and phrases that are regarded as being very informal. They're more common in speech and writing and are typically restricted to a particular context or group of people. Okay, so examples of this could be the word salty, right? Today's youths use the word salty two to mean, um, grumpy or cranky. They might say that that person got really salty with me down at the bakery because I got the got my order wrong. They don't actually mean salty, as in flavorful. They mean salty, as in sassy. Okay, another option T okay. T is slang for gossip, you know, spill that hot tea, sister. While these are words that you may use in conversation with your friends. It's not appropriate to type this out and to use it in your professional email writing. Okay, It's always better to use an expanded vocabulary whenever possible, So that could be things like instead of saying I feel like or I want to go Wana especially , is very sling. Okay, you spell it out, you say I would prefer to go or I feel I have a feeling that I prefer okay, all of these things, instead of I wanna are should a anything that you would find yourself casually saying in a conversation with a friend, is probably something that needs re evaluated before it makes its way into your professional email writing. Now let's talk about contractions. A contraction is when you shove two words together, so can and not becomes, can't k do and not becomes? Don't. When you do this in your writing, it looks very haphazard and it looks very generic and very conversational, which is not bad. It's just not high on the professional level of writing. So when you are writing a professional email, you want to make sure to type these things out instead of saying I can't come to the meeting on Wednesday. You say I will not be able to attend the meeting on Wednesday instead of saying I don't have the assets for the client, You say I am not prepared to deliver the assets to the client, Okay, finding different ways that you can frame what you're saying so that you can avoid using contractions whenever possible. 12. Use Action Verbs : Let's talk for a minute about how action verbs can really spice up your professional email writing and can take the flow of what you're trying to say from A to B. Quickly, insistently now action Verbs are verbs that show something is happening. It's right there in the title action Verbs. OK, um, there are so many to choose from, and depending on the one that you select, it can really spice up and add a high level of tone to what you're communicating to your colleagues, to your clients, to your managers. So what are some options you could use? Words like I handled. I lead. I managed. Okay, I focused on fill in the blank. Make sure that you check out the download that is attached to this lecture. I have included a list of over 100 high level action verbs that you could begin working into your emails. It's not only going to help keep things quick moving and concise, you know, brief into the point, but it's also going to help your writing just really boost up A not so that you are communicating in a way that is easy to understand, and that is very, very professional as well. 13. Avoid Saying “I’m Sorry” : one of the most common professional email mistakes that people make is using the phrase I'm sorry. Now there is absolutely a time in a place to use. I'm sorry. Specifically, if you have absolutely and definitively wrong somebody If you've slighted a colleague if you've messed up for a client, que there is obviously a time and place to apologize. However we use the phrase I'm sorry all the time. I'm sorry I was late, right? I'm sorry. Fill in the blank. And what that does is often times it asks the person who were talking to to excuse our behavior even if we weren't in the wrong. Um, I'm sorry you feel that way. I'm sorry that what I said came across in this manner. It's a phrase that can defuse situations and can sometimes, you know, differ respect to someone else. But there's also a better way sometimes to communicate that feeling. For example, instead of saying I'm sorry that I was late, you can use it as an opportunity to think the other person Thank you for waiting for me. I appreciate your patience. If you took ah ah, long time to get back to a client if they were expecting an email from you at eight. In the morning. And now it is three. And you're just now getting back to them instead of beginning your email by saying, Oh, my goodness. I'm so sorry. I dropped the ball. Okay, Take a deep breath. And instead you could write something like, I appreciate your patience with me. I wanted to make sure that, you know, fill in the blank was an order before I reached out to you today. Okay. Not only does this put you in a good light, but by not apologizing it conveys to the person that you're talking to that nothing is wrong. Because at the end of the day, while there are things that are worth apologizing for and worth being sorry for, when we over use that phrase, it puts undo pressure on ourselves to have to look like we haven't done something wrong. Okay, so at the end of the day, you get to choose how you frame the conversation. If you really truly feel in your heart that you've wronged somebody to the point where you need to apologize for your actions and great go ahead and use. I'm sorry, but if you're just using it as a filler, where to? Kind of get through an awkward situation. Maybe you're late to reply like we talked about earlier. Eliminate it. Just move past it. Thank them for their patients and get right into the meat of what you're trying to say in your email. 14. Avoid Saying “I Feel” : another phrase that we want to stay away from In our professional email writing is the phrase I feel now again, with all of these things that we're talking about in this course, there is obviously a time in place when when you can say things like this. However, when we say I feel it then is usually followed by our opinion on something, and there may or may not be a time replace for that. For example, let's say that you are emailing your colleagues regarding ah, presentation for a client that you all have been working on. Let's say that you want to interject your opinion for how you feel that this presentation should be wrapped up for how it should look. You could write an email saying, Dear Team, I feel like the way that this looks is juvenile. It's not professional enough. I feel like we need to do X, Y and Z to make you feel better. Okay, they're going to receive that and they're going to instantly feel defensive because you have come at them with your feelings and they're automatically going to be triggered into thinking that that they need to respond with their feelings. So how do we How do we fight against us? How do we combat feelings with facts? So ah, better way to get your point across instead of saying I feel would be it would appear that and then fill in what you're trying to say. It would appear that the color blue, which has a cool tone and conveys feelings of fill in the blank, will be better used if we swapped it out for more aggressive color, like red. Whatever it is that you're trying to say. If you fight the feelings with fax, maybe some data to back up what you're trying to get across the person reading it is going to take those facts and is going to process them as such. OK, they're going to look at it and give it, ah, higher value than they would your feelings. It doesn't mean that they don't value what you feel. It just means that we as people, especially working professionals, were conditioned to look at feelings and fax very, very differently. Our brains trigger the response in a completely different way. It's the same when you're holding a conversation with someone. If they're constantly talking about. I feel I need I want your brain is going to approach them and respond to them in a very different way than you would if they were saying things to you. Like, did you know that? And then giving you data right? It would appear that, you know, fill in the blank. Do you agree that fill in the blank? So it's important to start reframing the feelings that you have, whether valid or not in two ways that are more fact based, so that the people that are reading your emails can respond to what you're trying to get across more appropriately, less defensively and more productively. 15. Avoid Saying “I Just” : another really common professional email mistake is using the phrase just this could be. I just wanted to let you know or just wanted to see if that time still work for you or just checking in or just following up on my last email. We use it in a variety of different ways and, well, it's not a bad word. What it does is it undermines your position of authority, and it sets the tone instead of being confident to one of questioning. Okay, what I mean by that is if I started email by saying, Hey, just wanted to see if you were still available for a meeting on Friday it It's a tone of hesitation, and it's a It's a tone of deference. Okay, I'm deferring to what you may or may not want to do, and I'm leaving the door open for things to change later on. Um, it's not terrible, but it's not authoritative either. And you want your professional emails to convey confidence, to convey competence and to convey a feeling of that. You know how to get from a to B quickly and succinctly. You know what you want. You know what you need and you're not apologizing for it now. This doesn't mean that you need to disrespect what other people's schedules. Maybe this doesn't mean that you shouldn't be accommodating to other people, but when you're writing, the words that you choose are so very, very important. And if you can eliminate using the word just from the emails and from your direct conversations with people that you work with, people that you work for, it will position you as a leader and as someone who's very confident in what they have to say. And that's exactly what you want To dio, that's the whole goal of this course is to get you to confidently communicate with the people that you work with in a way that's understandable, and that is precise, and that is very, very intentional. 16. The “Call to Action” Sandwich: in this section, we're going to talk about how to structure your emails for maximum results and maximum readability. So the very, very first thing, obviously we need to start our email with a salutation that could be dear so and so or hello, so and so what? Whatever that looks like. It's usually short into the point. And once that little salutation is done, we're going to get into the meat of the email with what I like to call a call to action sandwich. Okay, so the very first sentence after that initial salutation is going to have an action item for that person. And then, at the very end of your email, you're going to repeat that call to action. So it's very clear at a glance exactly what you want from your reader exactly what you want them to dio. Whether that is get you a file, send a follow up email to you. Schedule a meeting. Whatever it maybe you want a sandwich, your content with calls to action and then in the middle of your email. The body of your email is where all of the supporting information regarding that call to action is going to be found. I recommend limiting your call to your body. Paragraph 24 to 6 sentences for maximum readability and, when necessary, splitting up that information into short. You know, punchy paragraphs that air really easy just to glance over because most people are busy. Ah, lot of people are reading their emails on their phones as they're coming to and from work as they're heading to inform meetings. So it's really important that the way that you structure these emails is incredibly simple for the reader to understand what you're trying to say just at the blink of an eye. So let's dive into what the email structure should look like when it's played out in real life. 17. The Body of Your Email: So knowing how to structure your professional email is not so much of an art form as it is a science. There is a widely acceptable template, a format that you can follow. And if you do that, then you can pretty much guarantee that your email is going to be readable. It's going to be concise and to the point, and you're going to have that call to action sprinkled throughout that is going to help your readers respond as quickly as possible. So what does that look like? First things first. Make sure to leave the email recipient address area of your email empty until you're ready to send. There is nothing worse than accidentally hitting Send and having 1/2 drafted email go out. That is definitely not professional. And so the best way to just fight against that is just not enter in the email address of where you want your email to go until you're absolutely finished with your email and ready for it to be sent. So next you want to use an intro phrase and be sure to use the name of the person that you're emailing whenever possible. So what does that look like Here are three examples. The first. OK, you could start out by saying, Dear Mrs Callahan, another option would be good morning, Michael. I hope this email finds you well. And of course, you're gonna substitute Michael or Mrs Callahan with the name of the person you're actually emailing. Another option when you're emailing, multiple people could be Hello, Mark, Clara and Bill. And you want to make sure that you end with the proper punctuation. So, for example, to hear this is a complete sentence. So we're going to end it with a period for options one and three. They're not complete sentences. So we're going to end them with a comma to show that the thought is continuing, and then it will be continued on in the following sentence. All right, so the first sentence of your email body should convey your theme or email intent and also bear with it a call to action. So what does that look like? Option one. You could say something like I pulled together the files you requested, and I'm hoping you can review everything and provide me with feedback this afternoon. So right away. The reader knows exactly what this email is about. Okay, You have pulled together files that they asked for. And the very clear specific call to action is you are hoping that they can review everything and provide you with feedback this afternoon. Okay? It's not ambiguous. It's not. Get back to me when you can. You're giving them a hard and fast deadline for when you won't be back from them. Another option is option two. You could say something like Next week is our annual budget meeting, and we need to present a list of projected expenses for the upcoming year. Can you help me pull together supporting documents for this? Now, this is a little bit long as far as intro sentences go. But what we need to convey is both the theme, the intent of this email and then the call to action. So the theme for this one is your laying the groundwork. Next week is the annual budget meeting, and we need to present a list of expenses and then the call to action is this request to help them pull together supporting documents. One more option for how this could look. You could say something like the new website project related yesterday, has a fast track timeline of three weeks. So I need each of you to let me know by the end of the day today what a reasonable timeline for developing content and graphics looks like again, we have the the theme K. The new website project has a fast track timeline and then you have the call toe action. I need each of you to let me know by the end of the day today what a timeline is for developing content in graphics at the end of the day. The goal is that even if the reader Onley reads the very first sentence of your email, don't know exactly what the email is about and they'll know exactly what you need from them . This is especially true of if, let's say that they happen to open up your email and they're headed into another meeting and they just glance at that first sentence, they'll know I have to get back to this. It needs something from me immediately. As soon as I'm done with this next meeting, it makes it a lot less likely that they will put off your email or that they'll forget to respond when you have that call to action right there in the very first sentence. So let's move on the rest of the first paragraph as your structuring this email. The rest of the first paragraph should support the theme and the intro sentence. What does this look like? Example. One. As soon as I hear from you, I can finalize your logo design and we can move on to the rest of your branding. I'm incredibly excited with the design direction and believe that this new company, brain ing, is going to excite your customers as well. So what is this done? You have reiterated what the email is about finalizing the logo design, and you are giving the next steps to the person who's reading this email. Once I hear back from you, we can move on. We can continue on in the project. It gives them even more incentive to get back to you and to to adhere to the timeline that you've put before them. The second option here. You could say something like we will be responsible for presenting all of our financing request to the board, and I would like to incorporate visual aids and charts wherever possible. If you think time will become an issue with getting all of the stun, let me know I can reassigned Melanie and chats that can help create these visuals if needed . Okay, so this does multiple things. It gives opportunity for the reader to come back and say, Hey, the one week timeline you've presented you with isn't feasible, and you've also presented a possible solution. If that timeline is too tight, here is how we can move forward to fix that problem in a quick and efficient way. This anticipating of potential issues that someone might have when reading your email is a very important skill to master because it will eliminate unnecessary back and forth as you email with people trying to resolve issues that arise in your workday. And it's going to fast track you as a leader and someone who thinks ahead. The third option I've provided here says This is a huge opportunity for the agency, and I know we're all excited about the possibility of more work with this company. If we are able to successfully execute the clients vision for the site, I want to make sure we hit every deadline. So let me know if you anticipate needing more help from other content creators or if we needed additional funds allocated for possible over time. So what this does is it just really hits home that excitement to try to rally this person's team around this accelerated deadline. In In writing this, you're acknowledging the fact that it's a big ask, and you're also, as with option number two, you're recognizing potential problems, and you are presenting solutions like finding help from other content creators or allocating additional funds for overtime that these people may be incurring as they're working on this fast tracked project. So as you move on to structure your email, you can use additional paragraphs to provide supporting information or to introduce a new thought or topic. But if new information is being discussed, make sure that you include a new introductory sentence, highlighting what the actual intent of the new paragraph is. Because again, at the end of the day, the goal is to provide at a glance, understanding for the reader. That is what takes just a normal, rambling, everyday email and turns it into a professional powerhouse. So Lastly, we need to wrap up our email with a call to action sentence and then use a conclusion phrase this could look like. Thank you so much for reviewing everything today. I look forward to hearing back from you this afternoon sincerely, Jenna, or it could look like option number two. I appreciate your help with this project. Let's touch base again tomorrow afternoon to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. Have a great afternoon, Jenna. Or it could look like number three. I'm heading out of the office at 4 30 today and need to have your thoughts on the content timeline before then. Thank you so much. Regards Jenna. Each and every one of these provides a very, very, very crystal clear call to action, and it ends with a warm parting salutation. So now let's look at what all of this would look like if we put it all together into one polished, finished structured email. So for this first email, you can see it's a very, very clear salutation. The first sentence has our call to action. We wrap it up with a call to action and then are ending salutation. It's the same with email to this one's a little bit longer, but the the structure and the format is the same. We have our salutation. We have our intro sentence, and we have our call to action supporting information. The follow up call to action in the salutation and again, Third Time's a charm salutation intro sentence with the very, very, very clear call to action. Let me know by the end of the day what the reasonable time, Linus. We follow up with more details and then an incredibly clear I am heading out of the office at 4 30 I need to have your thoughts before then. That's it. Easy peasy, I promise you, if you can hold yourself to this structure, and if you can require yourself to work within these parameters, your emails will be read. They will be responded too quickly, and you will be known for someone who writes professionally, succinctly, and that is easy to understand and easy to work with. 18. Writing a “Call to Action” Subject Line: now that we've dialed in what your professional email structure should look like. Let's talk about how to write compelling subject lines that get results. If you look here on my screen, I have three subject lines samples for each of the emails that we worked on in the previous lecture. If you remember this first, email has to do with pulling together logo files. And the writer is hoping that the client will get back to them as soon as that afternoon with Project Feedbacks that they can move forward with the rest of the project. So a few potential subject lines could be please review these project files today. Another could be logo files attached for immediate review. Yet another option could be urgent. Local files to be reviewed today. Now let's talk about why these work. Ah, we want urgent call to action language to be used in our subject lines We have. We've talked before about the importance of action verbs and how they drive motion forward . It makes us feel like we need to act now. That sense of urgency is what is going to help people open your emails faster and respond to them quicker, which at the end of the day is is, is what you want you want. You don't want your emails to languish in someone's inbox for days. You want them to get back to you as quickly as possible so you can get on with your work day. So another thing that people often assume is that subject lines, in addition to you know, not having to be active, which we now know that they dio um, it's a misconception that they need to be complete sentences. That is not always the case, and this is really the only time when professional writing will allow for a fragment or an incomplete thought. You can say urgent logo files to be reviewed today, and that is okay. You want to grab their attention and give them an idea of what the email will contain. No crafting these takes practice. It takes time. There's there's no substitute for just getting in and doing the work. Seen what seemed what works and finding out what doesn't you want to avoid overly long subject lines? Because again, the goal is at a glance understanding. So if someone is opening this email on their phone, often times when they're going through thes subject line of their emails that are showing before they actually open it. It's on Lee the first few words that that will show. So if you have more than five or six words, ah, lot of that will get cut off. So you want to make sure that you front load your subject line with the action driven information that also lets them know what to expect in within the body of the email. So let's look at sample, too. If you remember, this was an email about an upcoming budget meeting, and the sender is hoping that the person receiving the email will help them come up with, AH, financing requests and incorporate and visual aids and charts for this presentation. So and there is a week long timeline associated with us, so a few subject line ideas for this could include an urgent budget meeting project question. Another could be time sensitive financing requests for next week's meeting, or even just a simple Can you help me with something urgent? All of these convey immediacy. They convey the need for teamwork in it. It differs to the recipients expertise okay, you're asking for help. You're letting them know that you need their knowledge. You need their assistance. And when you do that, it sparks in their brain. A. Oh, I better see what this is about instead of just something bland, like upcoming budget meeting. Ah, that might fall through the cracks. Or at the very least, it doesn't require anything from them. It's more informational. You want to, whenever possible in your subject line. Require the reader to do something, whether it's helping or reading or answer this question or alert alert time sensitive. Don't be afraid to put urgent, intense words in your subject line like help or urgent or time sensitive. Any of these things are all completely appropriate within a subject line. Now let's look at these last samples. So if you remember, this was for um, it was an email to a team regarding a new website website project that have been landed that had a fast track timeline. The call to action is the sender is hoping to get timeline information back from their team by 4:30 p.m. That day, So a few options for the subject line could be I need your timeline thoughts ASAP or congrats Team, please respond immediately so we can dive in or the third option here. Urgent. I need your project scheduled by 4 30 Please, let's talk about these These air a little bit more nuanced than the other samples that I've given you from this 1st 11 thing that you notice right away is don't put it right here. OK, we have an abbreviation we have, What? Which we talked in an earlier lecture about not wanting to dio Not wanting to use acronyms and ASAP is one of the only acceptable professional email acronyms that you can use. And really, the only time that you want to use it is in this subject heading the benefit to it is it's you want your subject line to be snappy and to be brief and to be eye catching. And if you were to write out the entirety of as soon as possible, it's very likely that when they pull up that thumbnail either on their phone around their their desktop device, that it's going to cut that off and you want to make sure that the full weight of the urgency of what you need from them in this email is conveyed. So that is when using a Nobre vacation or an acronym like this is appropriate. Now let's look at this next one. So this congrats team. It's important when you're working with teams, especially on time sensitive projects, that you find a way to celebrate the winds and, um, gloss over the losses. Because when you're dealing with people's feelings about work and projects, feelings can very quickly either accelerate or derail a project. So sometimes it's beneficial to put a brief acknowledgement to, ah, big win. They landed a big project so saying congrats team is automatically going toe have the recipient have good feels They're gonna be like Ah, yes, thanks, Pat on the back. And then you follow that up with please respond immediately so we can dive in, and even this is a little bit long. But even if it gets cut off, they're still going to see Congrats team, please respond. And that immediate call to action is exactly what we want. And then let's look at this last one Urgent. I need your project schedule by 4 30 please. Now what I like about this one is. You're taking this very aggressive language that has a very hard and fast deadline. Urgent. I need your product schedule by 4 30 And when you put this, please in here, it's that respect that we talked about in a previous lecture. It's the idea of even though you are commanding and you are dictating when you need to have this buying your drawing a very hard and fast line. You're also acknowledging that they need to agree to the rules that you're laying out, um, so asking the same, please or thank you the's common niceties. It's when it whenever possible. If you can include this it it humanizes the virtual correspondence because it's it's so easy for things to be taken out of context, taken the wrong way when it's just through the written word. So any time that you can add a please or Thora thank you are words of appreciation to your emails, it's gonna humanize it and make it feel a little bit more relational while still retaining that professional quality that we need from both the subject line and the rest of the body of the email 19. Using CC, BCC, and Reply All: So in this course you've learned how to polish a compelling subject line. You've learned how to structure your professional emails so that they pop. You have learned how to proof, read using your eyes and using Graham early. And now let's talk about a few tips and tricks to how to use email in a strategic wise, professional way. The first thing that we want to talk about is when to use the BCC, Um, and the reply to all features. So most most people know that if you are on a group email thread, you have the option to hit that reply all button. And what does that dio Well, what it does is it takes whatever you are saying, and it sends it out to anyone that has been included in the original email thread, whether through direct email, Ah, blind carbon copy or carbon copy. Um, the important thing to note with this is that it's easy in most email management systems. Toe accidentally hit the reply all button instead of just hitting reply to the person who sent the initial email. Where can this go wrong? Many, many, many ways. So you always just want to make sure that when you are hitting, reply or reply all that you're doing that intentionally. So you're not accidentally sending information to someone who it wasn't intended to receive that no as far as the BCC, the blind Carbon copy or the CC buttons. If I'm drafting an email to somebody and their email is in the primary subject are the primary recipient line and I hit the sea. See, it's going to just copy everything that I'm sending and send it to that secondary person as well. They will also be able to see who the primary email went. Teoh and the primary email recipient will also be able to see that carbon copy person. Why would you do that? It can sometimes help with email organization and structure, especially if you're not anticipating a response from the person that's copied. You just want them to be able to see it, Um, but you don't necessarily anticipate them responding. If you do want people to respond, and that's where that email thread where you're entering multiple e mails into the primary email address line, that's where that would come in handy. The BCC that blind carbon copy is a little bit more sneaky. If you include an email address in that area than the original email recipient will not see where that see seed and when might you use this while, for example? Let's say that I'm emailing ah client, and I'm as as the project manager. And I'm saying, Hey, client just wanted to let you know that this is our designers availability to meet with you in the next two weeks to finalize your website design. Mother of a Buck And then I BCC my designer. Why? I want the designer to know exactly what was said. But I don't necessarily want the client to be able to bypass me as the project manager and reach out to the designer. I want everything to filter through me all that communication to filter through me, but I want to keep my designer in the loop. So that's just one example of how using the BCC may help your workflow. But just keep in mind that again. It is a blind carbon copy, so that person that has been buying carbon copied can see the email can see responses, but the initial Imo recipient cannot so just factor all that in two, when you are when you're setting up, how you want your email to go out. The next thing is to discuss how to be gracious in an email thread situation. Let's say you have 5 10 people that have all been entered into that primary email recipient line. You are all included in an email threat. At that point, that means that any replies if they hit reply, all are going to go to the group as a whole. So how do you be a good member? A gracious member of this type of communication? Ah, one important thing is to make sure that before you reply that you have read every response that has predated the original message. This is important because you don't want to add any unnecessary information or questions to the email thread because they can already become heavy and tricky and kind of bottlenecks and difficult to navigate, especially the more responses that begin to come through. So if you have a question about the original email, make sure that you read through everything someone may have already asked it. It may have already been addressed, and that way you're not feeling the the fire of confusion anymore. Um, the other important thing is to keep your answers brief and direct as much as possible. And if there is this, if there's a specific the red member that you need to address and it still needs to remain , maybe for message tracking your company wants that the silliest rooming in the thread. Then make sure that you put their name right at top of your response. You know, for Brad Comma and then your response or your questions that way. Brad knows right away that it's for him and everyone else. Not that they will ignore it, because if they're being gracious email thread recipients, they will still read through. But they'll know that there's no urgency or call to action that directly affects them, which can help them manage their workflow and how they go about their day. So those two things are not so much impacting of the professional email writing, but it's important to know how to be a good professional. Email her and these these things go a long way into helping you perfect that craft and really put your best foot forward when it comes to how you're writing and responding to emails in the workplace.