Like many others, I read and reply to hundreds of emails every week and I have for years. And as with anything — some emails are so much better than others. Some emails truly stand out because the person took time to research, or they shared their request quickly. There are a lot of things that can take an email from good to great, and in this post, we’re going to get into them.
What’s in this post:
- The best tools for email
- What to say instead of “Let me know if you have any questions” and “Please let me know”
- An email template for shaving 20 hours off your work week
- How to say no to meetings and meeting requests
- A template for declining work projects or tasks
- The best way to send an intro email
- 7 simple sentences to set better boundaries
Use tools that help with grammar, clarity, and speed
First things first, everything is different with the right tools. There are so many tools that can help with email — the top ones assist with grammar (never email out a typo again), clarity (make your emails shorter, more likely to be read), and speed (write your emails faster and save yourself time). Here are a few of each:
Grammarly — avoid typos, speak confidently and clearly
The first tool that everyone who writes emails should be using is Grammarly. With a powerful free version, Grammarly saves you from sending emails with embarrassing typos. More than that, on the Grammarly Pro account the tool can help you make your tone more confident (removing “I think”) and use words that are more descriptive and clear.
Text expander — save templates to write emails faster
If you haven’t tried TextExpander before, you’re in for a treat. They have a very easy-to-use tool that lets you create your own keyboard shortcuts for text that you write frequently. Take some of the templates we have below and add them to TextExpander so that you can easily use them while you email.
Ellie — have AI write emails for you
If you’ve tried any AI content creation tools you know that they can be super powerful. Ellie is a tool that integrates with Gmail and learns your tone so it can help write emails for you. Worth a try if you’re looking to save time and outsource some of your emailing to the robots.
Chat GPT — have AI assist with how to phrase something
Finally, ChatGPT is an excellent all-purpose tool for assisting with crafting emails. If you’re stuck on how to write something, you can have ChatGPT write a first draft for you of the email. Be sure to edit it for your own voice and accuracy, but ChatGPT can be a life saver for writing emails more quickly once you get the hang of it.
Now that you have the right tools in place, lets jump into templates and snippets that will help you both send better email and breeze through your inbox.
Use templates and email snippets that speed up your replies
Similar to the idea with TextExpander in a previous section, you can save full templates and email snippets in many email tools to make it easier for you to send similar emails. For example, I get a lot of requests to write guest posts for Buffer’s blog. We have a whole blog post about writing for Buffer, which I have in a template I can easily send to anyone who pitches me a guest post.
Create email templates in Gmail
For Gmail, you need to enable templates before you can create them. Go to “see all settings” and then “advanced.” You’ll see a section for “templates” where you can then click “enable” to have access to templates.
Once you have templates, creating and inserting templates for Gmail is easy.
- From Compose in Gmail simply add your new template
- Click More and then Templates
- You can then save the draft as a template
Create email templates in Outlook
You can also create email templates in Outlook. No need to enable any features, simple start writing a new email. From there:
- Enter the text you’d like to be your template
- Then click File followed by Save As
- In the Save As dialog box, in the Save as type list, click Outlook Template.
- In the File name box, type a name for your template, and then click Save.
And that’s it!
A few ideas for email templates
You can include many of the email snippets we’re mentioning in this blog post as email templates. In addition to that, look at the emails you send the most frequently or emails where you don’t need to change very many words. Those are all great candidates to become email templates.
How to say no to meetings and meeting requests
One of the most common emails is invitations to meetings and requests for meetings. Whether you are already in too many meetings, have a packed schedule, or are trying to work more asynchronously, here are a few ways to say no to meetings and meeting requests.
Ask them to send more information before you meet
Sometimes, people offer a 30 or 60-minute meeting before sharing more context. Maybe with that context you wouldn’t need the meeting (it’s sad and true that many meetings could have been an email). Here’s one way to say that:
Before we take a meeting, I’d like to learn a little bit more about the topic. Can you send me more information via email? I’ll review and then we can take it from there.
Tell them you aren’t taking meetings
Something I experimented with when I had too many meetings was being transparent with people I was collaborating with that I was currently in too many meetings. Everyone I shared this with, even those I didn’t know well, reacted really well to my openness and were happy to share more via email or via a tool like Loom instead of meeting.
Here’s what I wrote:
I’m not currently able to add more meetings to my