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Strengthen your Email Writing – Part 1: Writing at High School Levels & Talking about People

  • By Diana Kawarsky, MA, CCP
  • February 3, 2020

Writing Skills

108.7 billion business emails were sent and received per day in 2014 (The Radicati Group, 2014).

With so many emails landing in our inboxes every day, we spend less time reading each one. The result: no-one is focusing on one document or task at a time, including your email. All of us are skimming to pick out the main points, so it’s important to write your emails to be skimmable.

So how do you write at a level that allows your reader to easily skim your email but still understand its core message? I’ll be answering this question over a four part series entitled “Strengthen your Email Writing.”

Writing at High School Levels

Most business writing authorities recommend a style simple enough to be read by a high school student. Beyond high school levels, you put extra demands on your reader and make them work harder to absorb your message. This results in people abandoning your document before it is understood.  That’s a writing loss.

Writing at high school levels is standard practice.  Using the online readability tool at Readability-score.com (which is based primarily on the Flesch–Kincaid Grade Level) we examined three random articles on each publication’s website.

Writing Skills
While this may not be the most scientific way of evaluating these publications, it does support the need to write at a level somewhere between grades 9 and 11 to ensure that your message is getting across to a majority of people.
Writing about People

Everyone can relate to stories about people.  We intuitively comprehend concepts that are attached to a person. Linguists such as Robert Flesch suggest writing about people as much as possible to make your email more understandable. Include words such as “you” and “I” as much as possible and where applicable.  Using names is also a good idea, as it helps the reader attach abstract concepts to real faces.

So for example, next time instead of writing

“We suggest that the process you proposed be re-evaluated.”


“Tom, Rachel, and I suggest that the process you proposed be re-evaluated.”  

Check back next week where I’ll be covering part two in this four part series: Varying your Sentence Length and Writing in the Active Voice.

Diana Kawarsky, MA, CCP

Diana is President of The Soft Skills Group Inc., and a senior training & development professional with over 20 years of experience in delivery, design & consulting with Fortune 500 companies, Universities & Colleges in Canada, USA, Europe, and Asia. Read More