9 Email Best Practices For Your Church Staff
Email is such a constant part of our daily lives that you probably don’t even think twice before hitting “send” after typing up a message. While this is fine for casual conversations among friends, email communication in your workplace requires a bit more thought and care.
1. Keep your personal email address simple & professional.
It’s fantastic if you love Battlestar Galactica, but the email address you’re going to use for any kind of professional communication is not the place to share that love. Little-known references or anything that obscures the owner of your email address are also not recommended. Use your name, if possible, so that anyone who wants to reach you will be able to easily identify your address.
2. Err on the side of formality for your first email exchange with anyone.
Just as it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed, starting off overly formal is always preferable to overly casual or familiar. It shows respect and allows the recipient to dictate the formality of your communication moving forward.
3. Be succinct.
Good writing is succinct. This doesn’t mean you can’t include any niceties or entertaining comments. But don’t let your message get lost in a bunch of unnecessary information. Your email is not a Tolkien novel. Leave out the extraneous material and keep the focus on the main point of your message. Especially when you're emailing busy pastors, it's important to be concise.
4. Don’t bury the lead.
Get to the point quickly, especially if it’s a request or actionable item. This one requires you to override everything you learned in elementary school. While you still wouldn’t want to start a paper on hamsters (bear with me) with “This paper is about hamsters,” you do want to begin your email with the purpose of the message. You don’t want to lose your reader before they even get to the main point of your email!
5. Make it easy to read.
Don’t include huge blocks of text that can make your recipient’s eyes swim. Give your reader smaller, more digestible sections to read.
6. Proofread (especially the recipient’s name).
I’ve received so many emails for “Sara,” which is somewhat understandable (although still not ideal), but also for “Susan” and “Sharon.” This immediately makes me less inclined to respond positively to your message. Typos and grammatical errors don’t help, either. They convey a sloppiness and carelessness that I assume carry over into your work. Whether you're a church job seeker or a church staff member, please proofread your emails before you send them.
7. If you’re heated, wait 24 hours before hitting “send.”
Remember, there is a person on the other end who will have to read whatever you’ve written. Your anger or frustration may be completely justified, but once you send that email, you can’t take it back. Even if what you’ve written wasn’t meant to be hurtful or hateful, your recipient may not appropriately grasp your intended tone and could misinterpret whatever you’ve put in writing.
8. Please, please, please don’t use capslock.
Just don’t. Anything you write in all caps comes across like you are yelling at the person.
9. Be sensitive to confidential information.
Numerous times, I have received an email that was sent in confidence to someone else because the sender accidentally hit "reply all." At times, in your work or in a job search, you will be privvy to confidential information or information that is intended for you only. After you proofread, double-check who is on your recipient list before you send any email. And when it doubt, don't put something in writing.
What other tips do you have for writing good email messages and effective church staff email communication?
If you liked this, then you'll also enjoy The 3-Step Guide For Emailing Busy Pastors.