From time to time EMT students or new EMS Professionals email me or other EMS Bloggers and Podcasters questions about passing the NREMT exam, making the most of a class with a bad instructor, or how to find their first job. Often, and unbeknownst to the email writer, their letter is widely shared among an email group that includes some of the top EMS podcasters, EMS bloggers, EMS system chief officers, and a group of best known EMS Physician.
To put this into perspective imagine a high school physics student asking their classroom teacher a question and the teacher saying, “Let’s check to see what Stephen Hawking has to say about that question.” Or a Pop Warner Quarterback asking the coach for a play for 3rd and long and the coach assembling a focus group of George Halas, Vince Lombardi, and Bill Walsh to answer the kid’s question.
Because email can so easily be shared … publicly and privately I suggest these important Email Writing Tips:
1. Assume anyone might eventually read your email, including but not limited to: your current employer, your future employer, your textbook author, or the keynote speaker at the next EMS conference you are attending.
2. Make a good or at least a neutral impression. I don’t personally know most of the people that send me emails. All I have to go on is the writer’s message and writing ability. So make an impression by:
a. Write a salutation such as hi, hello, dear, greetings esteemed colleagues.
b. Compose your email using standard sentence capitalization. Turn off the caps locks. Did you know some keyboards are now shipping without a cap
c. Be specific and brief. Generally if you are asking me for assistance or a resource I just need to know what is the problem and what solution are you hoping I can provide. I am not interested in a long and rarely interesting pre-amble. If we were to meet in a conference hall think of how you could explain your problem and need in sixty seconds or less and then let me ask questions.
d. Proofread, Proofread, and Spell Check. All email programs have a spell check feature. Luminaries of the industry may read your email. Make a good impression with correct spelling.
e. Ask for a friend (smart) or mentor to read a draft before you send. If the subject of your email is passing an exam so you can pursue your dream of being a paramedic make sure you clearly and correctly communicate that message. You may only have one chance to ask Stephen Hawking a physics question so you better make sure he understands your question.
f. Save your
texting abbreviations for once we know each other. Imagine how Lombardi would react to “IMO” or “TTYL”.
3. Send to an individual or individuals rather than a group or organization email box. Writing to a generic address like email@example.com is likely to result in two things: 1) a large group of people reading and analyzing your email and 2) no one specifically answering your email because they are so busy analyzing and discussing your email and writing ability among themselves. Target your email to the person that is most likely to give you the best answer.
What are your email writing tips?
How can you most effectively find and communicate with EMS professional leaders to help your career?