E-mail has replaced the formal business letter in today’s contemporary office, said Penny Hampton, Professional Development director.
Hampton guided students through how to write an e-mail June 8 during a summer workshop “The Anatomy of an E-mail.”
She stressed the importance of being aware of grammer and other mechanics of communication.
“It is important to know the mechanics of a well thought out and written e-mail,” Hampton said.
Hampton told the crowd e-mail was first meant to be a way to send quick messages sort of like today’s instant messaging.
However, it has evolved and is now today’s formal business letter.
She told those in attendance every part of the e-mail is important, especially the To line.
“Most of us have funny stories we can tell about a misdirected e-mail,” Hampton said.
“You have written a brilliant message. It is perfect in every way. Direct, detailed, precise and even humorous,” she said.
However, when you send it and colleagues who receive it think it’s nice but wonderwhat it has to do with them.
Then, she said, “all of your skills in writing the perfect e-mail are for naught.”
She also explained the different options that can be used when addressing an e-mail.
She said the To line includes anyone who needs to receive the information.
The CC, or carbon copy, line is for those who need to know that the information was sent to the recipient.
The BCC or blind carbon copy, line is a little trickier and should be used with extreme care.
“Blind carbon copies are by nature, sneaky. They are electronic talking behind someone’s back,” Hampton said.
She then spent a few minutes addressing what she considered the most important and the most neglected part of an email — the subject line.
Useful and to the point subject lines will prompt the reader to prioritize the information being sent to them, she said.
Hampton warned against using features which marked e-mails urgent, notify sender or follow up.
She said the content of the e-mail, if written correctly, should speak for itself.
“If you have worded the message and or subject line to communicate what your expectations are from the recipient, you do not need to use the cutesy red flags, chili peppers, or other dentations of urgency,” Hampton said.
As the seminar came to a close, Hampton touched briefly on the body of the e-mail message.
“To whom it may concern” is no longer used as a formal greeting,” Hampton said.
It is the responsibility of the sender to research the proper way to greet the recipient, she said.
She also addressed the formal manner in which to complete the closing of a message.
In closing, sincerely is the coldest, but is appropriate in formal correspondence, Hampton said.