1. Use exclamation marks carefully
Exclamation marks are used to show a strong feeling towards something, or to mark urgency. Although they can be useful for stressing positive messages, many people punctuate emails with many exclamation marks to try to seem enthusiastic and avoid sounding cold.
Unfortunately, this can have the opposite effect to the intended one. Writing with excessive exclamation marks may seem childish, unprofessional or (at worst) passive aggressive, especially when replying to a request or negative feedback. Therefore, cut out exclamation marks and instead focus on writing your sentences to be friendly and professional rather than trying to make up for it with punctuation.
2. Avoid emojis and emoticons
As with exclamation marks, emojis are the next to remove from your email vocabulary. Emojis are not consistent between devices, which can lead to miscommunication or set an unintended tone. Your recipient’s device might display a different-looking emoji to the one that you have selected, and it may not suggest the exact meaning you were hoping to get across. So, you should instead focus on making your sentences clear and concise.
3. Check your attachments
If you have written ‘please find attached’ in your email, you might want to check if you have actually attached the document. Thankfully, some major email services such as Outlook and Gmail do prompt you to include an attachment if you try to send without one. However, do not leave it to the computer to check. Ensuring the document is attached and in order will help you to maintain a high level of professionalism in your work communications.
4. Wear something smart
Despite hybrid or home working, any video calls with colleagues or clients should still be professional. This does not mean you need to wear a suit at home, but you should avoid wearing inappropriate or explicit t-shirts, for example. However, you can probably lose your dress shoes.
5. Audio quality matters
Good audio quality is key to professionalism in video meetings. Colleagues will be able to put up with a bad video image, or even if you turn your video off entirely. However, bad audio is inexcusable, as it will prevent you from taking part effectively.
Preparation is therefore important. Work from somewhere with a stable internet connection that day, or use a phone to make the call. Alternatively, if you work in a loud environment, arrange for your work to provide you with a headset to use in order to reduce microphone feedback and echo. Having a clear, audible voice is the best way to show your professionalism in any meeting.
6. Blur your background
Often people take video calls in front of a distracting bookshelf, messy room or busy office. You can easily present a more professional image by taking your call with a blurred background. This will refocus the call onto you and your message, rather than leaving the caller to wonder which books you have on your shelf or who is moving around behind you.
Overall, it is up to you to use your discretion. Many of these rules can be bent slightly when considering the person you are talking to. Although it is best to always try and be professional, we are all human, so don’t worry if things don’t always go to plan!
Interested in other tips to help you succeed in your career? Check out our article on the soft skills that will boost your professional development.
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- Publication date
- 16 August 2023
- European Labour Authority | Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion
- Business / EntrepreneurshipHints and tipsYouth
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