How writing better emails makes you a better engineer

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Research links bad writing to lowered productivity

Do you struggle with an overflowing inbox? Spend a lot of time reading, writing and replying to emails? If you dash emails off without too much thought, new research shows you might want to rethink your approach.

Badly written emails waste time

Research in the Harvard Business Review found bad writing can destroy your productivity.

A survey of over 500 business people determined they spent an average of 25.5 hours per week reading for work, with around a third of that on email. Over 80% agreed that badly written material wastes a lot of their time. The key issues with writing were:

  • too long
  • poorly organised
  • unclear
  • filled with jargon
  • imprecise.

 Fuzzy writing leads to fuzzy thinking

The researcher identified characteristics of clear writing as:

  • well-organised, active-voice sentences
  • explaining what is happening and what ought to happen
  • explaining what people need to do.

How much time do you think you spend a week reading badly written emails?

How about writing them?

Improving your own email writing

When colleagues or clients (or your boss) read your emails, do they think you are a well-organised, clear thinker? Or are there fuzzy patches in there?

How exactly do you write emails differently so they don’t confuse the recipient? Brush up on your email skills in 10 minutes with a free Email Masterclass for Engineers or take it a step further with Writing Skills for Engineers.

Clear emails and business writing gets to the point so you can spend less time explaining, more time doing.

Over to you

What’s your top tip for writing clear emails?

What do other engineers do in emails that drives you mad?

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