- On May 26, 2020
A while ago I wrote a post about not starting emails with I hope you are well.
In everyday business writing, I counseled, there’s generally no reason to open with a reference to your reader’s well-being, particularly if you don’t know the person to whom you’re writing.
But coronavirus has changed that.
I recently received a group letter from someone I don’t know that struck the right tone. It seems strange to hope this letter finds you well, she wrote, but I do, conscious of the enormous changes the past several months have wrought in our world. And then she moved on—unlike the head of an airline who, after starting his missive with I hope this note finds you and your loved ones healthy and well (that’s fine!), spent three paragraphs musing on the impact of the pandemic before getting to the point of his letter. That’s too much.
I received another email from someone I did business with a while ago that hit the right note. Good morning and I hope you are well, he started. Then he wrote, I wanted to let you know, going straight to his reason for contacting me. I like that.
I also like the human-sounding sign-off The Wall Street Journal uses for its coronavirus morning briefing: Thanks for reading, and take care of yourselves.
So bottom line, it’s fine to open or close with an appeal to your reader’s—or readers’—well-being, but avoid reflecting too much on what’s happening (we’re full up) and get to the point of your communication.
For more on the topic, read How to Start an Email. The pointers still apply.