Writing business emails can be tricky when English is not your first language. You want your text to read as professional, but not boring. The tone should be formal, but not too cold and impersonal. You also want to match the readers expectations for the style and format for this type of communication. Balancing all of these considerations while keeping grammar and vocabulary under control can be a real challenge. This skill is sometimes covered in Business EFL lessons, but rarely in detail, so here are our top tips for writing excellent business emails that get the job done. 


1. Address the message to the recipient with the correct level of formality. If it is a person you’d call by their first name in person then it’s okay to start with a simple greeting like “Hi {first name}”. When writing to a group of colleagues who are your peers or people on your team, it’s okay to start with just “Hi team” or “Hey everyone” or similar informal forms of address. For someone who you would address as Dr/Mr/Mrs/Ms, it would be better to use “Dear {title + last name}”. When writing to an unknown person or organization, you can use “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam.” 


Pro Tip: Make sure to double or triple-check the spelling of names in emails. It is very important to get it right as a mark of respect for the person to whom you are writing. 


2. Keep it simple. Avoid unnecessarily complex sentences or overly formal structures. Communicate exactly what needs to be said and don’t throw in extra details. People appreciate it when you show that you value their time. 

      • When writing to a colleague or client you know well, it’s okay to add some personal touches like “have a great weekend” or “I had a great time at our last lunch meeting.”
      • When writing to someone you don’t know well, avoid personal questions, but be sure to add appropriate polite phrases to thank them for reading your message. Check this post for some options.


3. Separate the body of your email into paragraphs. It is more difficult to read a block of text than shorter segments. If there is a sentence that is more important than all the rest, make it stand out by using bold font. 



4. Sign off in a way that reflects the tone and audience of your message. If you’re writing to a peer or someone you address by their first name, you can keep it simple with “Best, {your name}”. If the recipient is someone you do not know well, you should choose “Sincerely” “Respectfully” or “Kind regards.” 


5. Proofread your email carefully. If it is a very important message to someone you don’t know well, go to lunch and come back to read your message again before sending it. If you have time, you could also ask a colleague to read through it for you. 


6. Before you send your message, think carefully about the subject line. Never send it as (No Subject). Waiting to select the subject line until after you’ve written the message will help you to summarize the contents of your message logically. The right subject line helps the reader approach what you’ve written and will help them to search for it later if they need to find it in their inbox. 


7. Watch for responses and reply accordingly. Pay attention to the level of formality used by the other person and follow their style. Mirroring their tone and formality/informality will show that you are on the same page. 

Bonus Tip: Use technology to your advantage to keep your messages organized. Respond to important emails immediately when possible. If you must wait, mark them as high-priority by flagging them. Delete or archive emails threads that have been resolved to keep your inbox free from clutter and distractions. 


Take your professional English even further by booking a lesson with one of Talentingo’s expert English coaches. You can find a coach from the US or UK with experience or education in your career industry (business management, healthcare, or technology.) Joining Talentingo will also connect you to a career community where you can access discussion club sessions centered on topics relevant to your job. The Talentingo team is at your service as you improve your English for a career breakthrough, work remotely effectively, and integrate into your new community in the US or UK. 

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