Last week, in Part I of our blog, we learned about how to properly address and begin a business email in English. In this post, we will discuss how to appropriately address a variety of business needs in an email message.
1. Making an appointment
This is perhaps one of the most common email purposes in the business world. If you are the sender, use the question structure “Would it be possible for us to meet on….?” and give the receiver a few date and time options to choose from. Typically, a two-week time frame is manageable to set up most meetings.
2. Confirming an appointment
If you are the original sender, make sure that when your sender replies, you add the meeting as an e-calendar invitation so both parties are aware of it. A reply can be “Dear ____, Thank you for your confirmation. I look forward to meeting on _____.” If you are the receiver who must confirm a meeting, be sure to restate the agreed upon time. Reply with a line such as “Dear ____, Monday, 03 July at 16:00 will work well for me. I look forward to meeting with you then.”
3. Asking for general information
There are cases when sending an email is better for a short question to a colleague, especially if digital files or scheduling are involved. Be clear in your message, and state exactly what action is needed from the colleague, using headings or bullet points if necessary. For example:
Subject: Annual Report edits and presentation
I hope you’re having a nice week. I just have two quick questions for you regarding the Annual Report:
1. Where can we save the first draft so our marketing team can edit is collaboratively?
2. Could you please set up an appointment with the Board so we can present our findings next month?
Thank you so much!
In this message, it’s very clear from the subject what the email is about. It’s also clear from the list what Sandra is being asked to do, and what information Anne needs to move forward with her work.
4. Referring to an attachment
We all work with digital attachments, and it is important to refer to them correctly in the context of a business email. NEVER send attachments without specifying in the message why they are there! This will annoy and confuse readers, and looks sloppy on behalf of the sender. The appropriate way to refer to an attachment is as follows.
Subject: Annual Report Draft 2 - Comments needed
Thanks for a productive meeting yesterday. My team has now made several edits on the Annual Report document, and Draft 2 is attached here.
I would appreciate your comments once you look over the document so we can have a polished version for the Board meeting in two weeks.
Thank you for your efforts!
Of course, Anne should double-check to make sure she has attached ‘Annual Report Draft 2’ before sending. It is explicitly stated in the subject line and the text of the email why the attachment is there and what Bill is being asked to do with it. Always be crystal clear when emailing attachments!
Check out Part III next week, in order to learn how to deal with apologies, invitations, gratitude, and proper closing for a message.