Emails are part of our everyday. 

Whether for work or business, these messages offer a great way to communicate. But not everyone gets them right. 

Here are seven simple steps to better emails. Put them into practice and notice the difference it makes. 

Picture of a sign post saying 7 steps

1. Think Before You Type 

If you are simply replying to an email with a quick ‘thank you’, go ahead. If you are writing a more involved response or creating a fresh message, don’t start typing straight away.  

Give yourself time to think about what you want to say – and how you want to say it. Think about the recipient. Think about the subject matter. Think about the nature of the communication. Does it require sensitive handling or a higher level of security? 

2. Stick to one idea 

If you are writing content, marketing or sales email it’s a good idea to have just one theme or topic – and keep to that. 

If you start introducing several ideas, it will make it harder for the reader to know what your message is about – and what you want them to do or take away from your words. 

3. Ask for Action 

This is something that can get missed or forgotten. If you want someone to act on your email, tell them. 

Not just tell them to act. Tell them, specifically, what you want them to do. 

If, for example, you have a query and require an answer to progress a task, ask the question. And let the recipient know by when you need their reply. Keep it simple. 

Hi Brian, I’m sending a proposal to a prospect next week. Has the sales brochure been updated to include the new product specs? If so, could you send me a PDF version by 4pm Friday. Thanks.” 

If you are writing a sales email, make sure you ask for the sale. This will often invite the reader to click a link to a sales page. Make it clear what you want the person to do. 

“Click here to watch the video”. “Order your book here”. “Grab this offer before stocks run out”. “Pick up a bargain in our online sale”. “Book your holiday by 31st December to secure your 5% discount”. 

You get the picture. Don’t assume people will know what to do. Guide them. Tell them. 

4. Keep a Cool Head 

There may be times when you receive an email and you start to see red. The sender’s message has left you feeling frustrated, angry or upset. 

In the heat of the moment, you may feel like dashing off a reply and venting your emotions. This is never a good idea.  

Take a few deep breaths. Re-read the message. Try to view it with objective eyes. If appropriate, ask a trusted colleague or friend to take a look at it for a second opinion. Then plan your response. 

The idea is not to ‘hit back’ but neither is it to ignore how the email made you feel. Address the feeling, not getting ‘personal’ about it. Explain what bits of the message upset you and say what you want to happen next.  

In some cases, it may be that hitting reply is not the best response. It may best to have a call or meeting with the person. 

5. Review Before You Hit Send 

This bit of advice, for emails in general, is in a similar vein. 

It’s tempting to finish your message and just hit send. Avoid the temptation. Especially if the email is an important one. Take a moment to review what you have written. Ask yourself the questions. 

Is your message clear? If responding to someone, does it give them the answer or information they wanted? Are there any typos or grammar errors to correct? Is the message easy to read? Have you attached the attachment you said was going to be included? 

We’ve probably all done it. Hit send and then realised we didn’t want to do that. Get into the habit of sign off, pause, review, revise and then (when happy) press send. 

6. Pay Attention to Subject Lines 

This is most relevant if you have a mailing list, and are sending nurture sequence or sales emails. But it applies to any email you send, as well. 

The subject line in an email is like the headline on a sales page. It is the first thing people will see in their inbox and the opportunity to grab their attention. 

Anything with news, an offer or a curiosity factor will help to encourage people to click and open your message. 

If you’re unsure what works, why not look at your own inbox and cast your eyes down the list of subject lines. Which ones catch your eye? Which ones got you to open? 

7. Tune into Tone of Voice 

If you are writing for yourself, you can express your style, personality or brand through how you write your emails. 

What tone do you want to convey? Serious. Professional. Humorous. Energetic. Playful. Authoritative. Compassionate. You choose. 

As a professional assistant, you might be asked to write and send emails on behalf of a boss, colleague or client. This is easy to do. I explain how in my popular online Outlook course. In this case, it’s important to get the style and tone right each time. 

Get to know how the person likes to present themselves. How they talk. The phrases they like to use. The phrases they would never use. There is a real art to being able to match and mirror somebody’s style of communication. If you are a master of the art, your value goes up. 

Manage Your Messages 

There you have it. Seven steps for better emails. 

Of course, one way to ensure you are the recipient of better emails is to clear the clutter in your inbox. Unsubscribe from messages that are no longer of interest or value to you. 

If the thought of having to manage your inbox and mail in Outlook leaves you cold, let my online training warm you to the idea. (You can pay in pounds, US dollars or Aussie dollars). 

When you are on top of it, you’ll be able to do more in less time and improve your communications. That increases your value as a professional assistant. And, if you’re running a business, it means you can charge more. 

The session was well structured and the explanation was very clear. It was amazing how Shelley managed to squeeze so much info in just one hour and a half! Colin’s support and contributions were also very valuable, and so were “Virtual Veronica”‘s. Thank you for a most interesting and useful training session at the Miss Jones Virtual Summit!

Laura Carizzo- Royal Norwegian Embassy in Argentina

I haven’t used PowerPoint in 20 years, this has really boosted my confidence.

Lyn Parker

Course is packed with so much valuable information in a easy-to-understand and follow language, even for a complete beginner. I can respect the fact that sometimes it’s very hard for an expert to break the information down to basics. but Shelley has done it brilliantly. I was sure that I knew quite a bit but Shelley has proven me wrong even at the very beginning of the basics of PowerPoint. Lessons are short and precise which allowed me to easily transfer the new skill into practice without being overwhelmed and to carry on adding on more with each lesson. I had so many ‘Aha!’ moments and for most of them I couldn’t believe I used to pay graphic designer to do it for me, now, thanks to Shelley, I am looking forward to creating, designing, converting my presentations all by myself!

Iva Freeman – Vertex Human Capital

Shelley was very thorough and knew a lot of tip’s for using Teams, thank you 🙂

James O’Connor – Cavannah Homes

Very informative, constantly getting everyone in the meeting involved, loved every bit of it!

Dylan Teal Hopkins – Cavannah Homes
Fantastic and informative training and great to see all of the exciting functions with Microsoft Teams.
Laura Rigby – The Apprenticeship College
Shelley was really clear in her teaching and went at a pace that was helpful to us. We covered all we needed to know to get us started, as a small team, using MS Teams. She was also very helpful in the run up to the session, with check in calls and ensuring our platform was set up correctly. I would highly recommend Shelley to anyone wanting to learn to navigate their way around MS Teams.
Leigh Dowling – Innuous

Microsoft Teams One to One Training Session

Shelley was approachable, easy to work with, and agile with answering questions to apply the session to my specific needs

Melissa Marshall – Present Your Science

A course on Outlook had been on the top of my list when Shelley asked VA’s what they wanted to learn.

It was a real case of ‘so that’s how you do it’ or ‘I never knew that’. I have to say that I learnt so many great tips it has definitely improved the way I work in Outlook and my inbox is looking colourful and organised and I can’t wait to share this knowledge with my clients.

Jacqueline Leake – JLeake VA Services – Outlook

A great course with lots of examples and step by step instructions. I can now confidently create infographics and as a bonus, I learnt a lot of new PowerPoint functionality that will enhance all my PowerPoint work and save me so much time.

Jessica Bailey – Integral Resource

I really like Shelley’s courses. She has a clear and easy to follow teaching style. In ‘How to Create Fillable Forms’ I’ve learned about the functions of the Developer ribbon which will mean I’ll be able to create a bespoke Returns Form for a client who has an online shop

Freya Henderson – Virtual Office Orkney

Shelley was really clear in her teaching and went at a pace that was helpful to us. We covered all we needed to know to get us started, as a small team, using MS Teams. She was also very helpful in the run up to the session, with check in calls and ensuring our platform was set up correctly. I would highly recommend Shelley to anyone wanting to learn to navigate their way around MS Teams.

Sarah Clements – Inuous

Absolutely superb course, easy to follow and to refer back whilst putting it all into practice! I was unaware of the extent you can customise a presentation and it’s just made me want to know more – what’s next Shelley?

Denise Williams

I thought I had a pretty good grasp of Outlook until I did this course! In her videos, Shelley is clear and concise, and the language she uses is straightforward and jargon-free. Each module is broken down into manageable chunks, which helps keep your attention and means the course is easy to fit in around other commitments. I’ve created email templates and implemented rules that are already saving me time, and as all the other things I’ve learnt start to become second nature, the positive impact on my efficiency is fast becoming clear. This course has been incredibly beneficial and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to strengthen their skills and boost productivity.

Pip Doleman VA

I thought I knew Powerpoint really well, but I wanted to specifically learn how to use Powerpoint to create better infographics, easily and quickly. Shelley explains everything in a very logical and clear way, so I understood everything the first time I heard it. The most useful thing I learnt was that Powerpoint can do so much more than I thought it could. By also using the short cuts that Shelley showed me I am much quicker than I have ever been and I thought I was already quick!

Susan Marot

Shelley Fishel of Tomorrow’s VA has a wealth of experience in Microsoft Office. I met her in person 2 years ago at the PA Show in London. I also saw her in action in a fab workshop and knew she was the whizz that everyone had told me she was. I have since bought a lifetime access to her HUB and all the courses in there are a MUST if you are a VA on a mission. The courses will give you confidence in all the Office 365 components and will catapult you to dizzy heights

Alex Hughes