Email: how to use it effectively

Email typing

Emails are a great communication tool as they are quick and of course environmentally-friendly. However, too often we substitute email for telephone or face to face communication. This leads to mail boxes that are full and a slower action-response rate.

Email is a form of one-way communication. That means it does not allow for an immediate exchange of ideas. If you plan to use email as your communication tool, consider its limitations and your strategy for getting feedback.


DO use email to:

  • Provide one or multiple audiences with a brief status update in the body of a message
  • Deliver a longer message or information as an attachment to your intended receivers
  • Give timely information consistently to a group of receiver(s)
  • Prompt the receiver(s) to view web-based content or other content that’s attached


DON’T use email:

  • To give bad or negative news
  • To give complex, detailed or lengthy information or instructions
  • When the receiver deserves an opportunity to give immediate feedback or response


 KHC’s handy tips:

  • Keep messages focused, simple and brief
  • Don’t put anything in an email you wouldn’t want publicly broadcast
  • Make the subject line relevant and significant
  • Indicate if you need a response (what and when)
  • If it takes more than two or three emails to conclude a topic, then make it a verbal conversation.



Get to the point
State the purpose of your message clearly. State your most important point first, then provide detail if necessary. If you send long messages, it is much less likely that the person will act on what you have sent or respond to it.


Include a relevant subject
Make sure you include a relevant subject line. This not only ensures the recipient(s) read the email; it also makes it easier for them to archive or search for the email at a later date.


Work/Life balance
Think about your company working hours before you send your email. Do not assume your receivers will read or respond to an email that has been sent outside of standard office hours or during the weekend.


Be mindful of your tone
Unlike face-to-face meetings or even phone calls, those who read your e-mail messages don’t have the benefit of your  tone or other non-verbal cues. As a result, you need to be careful about your tone.


Don’t use e-mail to deliver negative content
These kinds of conversations are usually better handled face-to-face or, if necessary, over the phone. Remember, e-mail messages live forever and can be easily forwarded.


Avoid sending large or numerous attachments. If possible, compress them so that they download quickly and use the network efficiently. Give attachments meaningful names and say what they contain.


Spell check
Use your spell-checker. Misspelt words, bad grammar or poor punctuation reflect negatively on yourself and your company. It is a good idea to re-read your messages and make sure that you are communicating clearly and observing good e-mail etiquette.


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