Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Improve Your Business E-mail and Medical Writing – Part Two

Author: Michelle Mudge-Riley, DO, MHA

Have you ever gotten an e-mail that contained multiple misspellings and grammatical errors? What was your impression of the person who wrote that e-mail? How about an e-mail with a bunch of acronyms like LOL or OMG? Unless you’re e-mailing a friend, those are inappropriate for business e-mails.

Even if you know basic e-mail etiquette, you still may be intimidated by writing business e-mail. I know. I used to have a hard time with it. I wasn’t sure if I should make the e-mail long or short. I didn’t know the best way to space the sentences and paragraphs to make it easy for the reader to rapidly read and respond to the information. I’d ask someone a question and then wonder why I didn’t get the answer in a return e-mail.

Another question I get all the time is about the subject line of business e-mail. How do you catch the recipient’s eye with an intriguing subject line so he or she will actually open your e-mail instead of going to the next one on the list of one hundred unread e-mails in his or her Inbox?

Here’s some practical advice to remember as you write that next important e-mail communication.

Communicate what the reader is looking for.

Communicating your credentials is often a double-edged sword. You want to let the reader know you are a highly accomplished vascular surgeon (or pediatrician or hospitalist) but you aren’t looking for a job where you will use those clinical skills. You want to let the reader know you are a doctor but also communicate your experience (even if it’s on a hospital committee) in non-clinical areas and you want to highlight the fact you are looking to add value in a non-clinical area.

The most important thing to remember when considering your audience is knowing what they care about. If you’re not considering this, your message may be overlooked.

Stay tuned for the next blog entry that will help to give you more confidence in your e-mail communication but will also help you in other business or medical writing.

About the author:

Dr. Mudge-Riley is a senior consultant for brokerage firms, health systems and large employers in wellness and health promotion and President of Physicians Helping Physicians in Richmond, Virginia.  She has spent the past seven years advising and coaching other doctors in their career by counseling physicians on business skills, assisting with compliance and risk management issues and mentoring in personal wellness and balance.  She has worked with hundreds of doctors and in various health systems located throughout the United States. To read more about Dr. Mudge-Riley, click here.

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