(The previous two posts in this series: addressing the email and drafting the email) This last post covers just four basic tips you can use to prevent an email you sent from coming back and hitting you with embarrassment.
Many of us are connected most of the time. We check emails on our phone when we're not attached to the computer. We want fast results. And with the volume of email everyone gets, issues can sometimes get buried under the pile. For all these reasons, it's a good idea to reply to emails (that have you in the "To" box) promptly. If you will take some time to work on the issue mentioned in the email, say so, so that the other person knows when to expect a resolution.
Proofread before sending.
How basic, right? Yet you'd be surprised at how often people ignore this rule. I do too, sometimes, when I'm in a hurry—and almost always, when I've hit send before reading through what I've written, I look at that email later and cringe. Even when it's a basic one-line email to your co-workers, it helps to spend a few seconds to read it through. And if it's a message to a new client—read it over twice, and then ask your colleague who sits next to you to come over and take a look too.
Did I say spell-check? Now check the names of the people you're writing to as well. Nothing's as embarrassing as writing to "Tim" when your email is going to "Jim".
Insert addresses last.
This is one of the tips that a boss had once given me: and it's so simple yet effective I considered putting it first. Suppose you've got an important email from your supervisor's boss, copying a bunch of senior people in your company. You hit "reply to all" and start composing your answer. At some point, while you're hitting Enter to go to the next paragraph your left thumb rests on the Ctrl button and . . . your email goes out, half-written. (No, this has never happened to me.)
Who hasn't ever sent an email that said "Please find attached…" for the recipient to open and find no attachment? Have you ever inadvertently sent an older version of a document? Do yourself a favor: once your email is ready to send, open the attachment and check that it's in order. Then insert email addresses (that's the last step, remember?) and hit send. By the way, don't really write "please find attached" unless you want to go ultra-formal. And that's it! What did I miss, and what did I get totally wrong? Have a go in the comments.