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Email writing Article

The Next Email You Send
Could Cost  Dearly

Al Borowski, MEd, CSP, PP

E-mail is quickly becoming one of the bigger drains on corporate productivity and profitability.

More specifically, the ineffective, improper and incorrect use of employee e-mail on company computers exposes organizations to wasted time, bad press and the possibility of legal action from seemingly innocent forms of electronic communication.

The following set of questions can help you determine your awareness of critical e-mail issues.
  • How much time do your managers and executives waste reading or deleting e-mail messages they don't want, need or ask for?
  • How much time do your employees waste trying to create, understand or respond to e-mails that are unclear, don't get to the point and are poorly written?
  • How much time do employees waste reading or forwarding non-business items?
  • Is your company at risk because you do not publish or enforce a company policy or company standards for employee use of your computers?
  • How many of your employees send e-mails to co-workers in the next cubicle or take 30 minutes to compose a message they could convey easier and more effectively in a five- minute phone call?
  • Do you know how companies can discriminate against you based on the e-mails you send?
  • Do you know about the difference between e-mail etiquette and chat room etiquette?

This article focuses on three points you should consider each time you send an e-mail...your Image - your Results and your Security.


People form an image of you or your company by how well you communicate in person, on the phone and in writing. That now includes your e-mail messages.

Communicating via e-mail is not the same as communicating in a chat room. It is also not the same as composing a 10-page term paper in school.

E-mail messages still require careful attention to spelling, punctuation, grammar, format and tone. The tone of the message needs to be positive, personal and professional. If you wouldn't use chat room smiley faces and abbreviations in a letter to a customer, don't use them in your e-mails.

How well you communicate in an e-mail tells a lot about your judgment, attitudes and skills. If hearing your e-mail message read on local or national news broadcasts scares you, don't hit the Send button.


Most people don't get results from their e-mails because they do not understand one basic fact. Most people don't read e-mails. Busy business people scan or skim through e-mail.

For this reason, creating successful e-mails demands the correct approach along with specific techniques and strategies.

Three simple techniques will help you get better results from your e-mails.

First, use paragraphs to separate main thoughts. Avoid e-mail messages that run on for 10 sentences, all contained in one paragraph.

To really impress your audience, keep paragraphs short. No paragraph should ever exceed three sentences. If you need more than three sentences, chances are you haven't thought the idea through thoroughly enough.

Second, average 15 words per sentence. Typical business writing averages between 20 and 24 words per sentence. Shorter sentences help people skim and scan e-mails either on the screen or on paper, if they choose to print them.

Third, use a powerful Subject Line and first paragraph to grab your reader's attention and keep it. The Subject Line and the e-mail address of the person sending the message are the first two things people notice when they receive an e-mail.

The Subject Line needs to be descriptive enough to allow readers to relate to the subject matter and distinctive enough to be found quickly and easily at a later time.

Your first paragraph, unlike the paragraphs in the body of the document, should never exceed two sentences. Think of your opening paragraph as the Executive Summary of your message. Executive Summaries usually precede a long report and gives readers the purpose and scope of the report.

Your first paragraph may be all your audience ever reads. So you need to make it specific, interesting and focused on the needs of your audience.


Security becomes an issue to both employers and employees.

Employers need to understand that employee e-mails can become a legal nightmare. Casual statements contained in e-mails can become legally binding contracts. Viruses unknowingly forwarded to your clients by your employees can result in huge damage claims.

Sexist, racist or pornographic material circulated on your company computers can result in expensive and embarrassing lawsuits.

Employees need to understand that e-mails they create belong to and are immediately available to everyone and anyone, including people outside your organization. You need to protect your security and maybe your careers.

Careers and promotions are at stake because employers can now using employee e-mails as a form of discrimination. Employers maintain the right and responsibility for the information created and sent on their computers. Thus, they have information immediately available to them in a way previously unavailable.

Employers can now use company e-mails to analyze the skills, attitudes and work habits of employees. The content, style and timeliness of your e-mails give employers a much better picture of your communicating style, interpersonal skills, problem-solving skills and your attitudes and approaches to co-workers, managers and clients.

To protect yourself, never send sensitive, confidential or personal information via e-mail. If you do, you run the risk of having your information forwarded to people whom you may not want to see the information.

The proper, effective and safe use of e-mail can save time, get fantastic results and help grow businesses and careers. To achieve these goals, your e-mails should always reflect careful attention to your I-R-S, your Image, Results and Security.

Yes, please spread the word. To reprint this article in your Ezine, Newsletter or magazine click here for Reprint Guidelines.

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Al Borowski, MEd, CSP, PP
Certified Speaking Professional
Professor of Positivity

Connect all the Dots
PO Box 24505
Pittsburgh, PA 15234
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email etiquette author and speaker is a memebr of National Speakers Association email etiquette speaker is a member of International Listening Association business email etiquette speaker is a Certified Speaking Professional
business email writing expert, Al Borowski

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