Email is an essential workplace communication tool. Office workers typically spend more than 25% of their work week reading and writing email. For some, that number is much higher.
There are risks involved with sending email, especially when messages are unnecessarily long or detailed. Many people skim lengthy communications, or even ignore them. This creates misunderstandings, unclear expectations, and disappointing outcomes.
Unnecessary words and phrases are called fillers. Fillers add to the length and complexity of your message, but have no value. In most cases, you can remove fillers without even rephrasing your sentence.
Eliminating fillers instantly improves your writing.
The word “that” is rarely necessary, yet it appears dozens of times in most emails:
- I gave you the information so that you would understand what is happening.
- I gave you the information so you would understand what is happening.
- Studies show that most people send and receive over 100 emails per day at work.
- Studies show most people send and receive over 100 emails per day at work.
The word “on” can be a filler word too.
- I’ll see you on Monday.
- I’ll see you Monday.
- He was in the office on Thursday.
- He was in the office Thursday.
“In order” is always a filler phrase.
- Henry submitted his receipt at once, in order to get his form approved on time.
- Henry submitted his receipt to get his form approved on time.
“Began to” and “started to” can usually be shortened.
- She began to run.
- She ran.
- He started to ask questions.
- He asked questions.
Filler words creep in to your email naturally as you write. Attempting to catch them as they occur is frustrating and disrupts your flow of ideas. Instead, draft your email text, and remove the fillers afterwards. The Find function is helpful in detecting specific words and phrases. Try comparing your original email side by side with the final copy, after you remove the fillers. Your final message will be much more crisp!
Stay tuned for future posts about writing in an ‘active voice’ and rephrasing your words to increase clarity!