How to write an informal email is just as important as writing a formal one.
Imagine you receive an email from your bestie. Super stoked, you open it. It reads:
“Dear Sam, I would like to inform you that I shall be in town this week. It would be of interest to rendezvous at a pre-determined location, should your schedule permit. Please apprise me of your schedule so that we might coordinate a mutually agreeable time to meet. Best, Madison.”
This is clearly way too formal and distant to be an email from your BFF.
Let’s fix it, shall we?
So if you watched my lesson on communication channels, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of email. It’s great for both the professional context and the intimate communication context.
But that flexibility can also make it challenging. It means that you need to tailor the style of your email to match the context. Professional contexts typically call for a more formal style, and intimate contexts typically call for, you guessed it, a more informal style.
This distinction can be nebulous but fear not. Today I’m giving you strategies for writing an informal email to a close friend, family member and whomever else makes the cut for your inner circle of trust.
We’re going to break it down into three simple parts: Greeting, Body, and the Sign off.
Part 1: The Greeting
A multiple-choice question for you: would you start your informal email with:
c. Dear [Name],
d. Hi [Name],
If you said B, you could probably get away with it if you’re writing to a close friend. A and C tend to be too formal. D, on the other hand, hits the sweet spot. “Hi” is sufficiently informal, yet still pleasantly polite. Make sure you include their name though, otherwise it can feel impersonal.
Starting with “Hey” can also work here but be mindful of the age of your intended audience. Sometimes, “hey” rubs people of older age groups the wrong way because it can come off as a touch abrasive.
How about omitting the greeting altogether?
Unless this is someone you email very frequently, I’d advise against it for the opening email. No greeting can be perceived as a bit abrupt.
That said, for all subsequent emails in the exchange, I’d actually recommend omitting the greeting to sound more conversational and less stiff.
So for the first email, include the greeting. For all the emails that follow it, leave it out.
And if you want to go the extra mile, one of my favorite things to do is to follow the greeting with an inside joke. That immediately establishes the intimacy you and the recipient share and it shows you put a little extra thought into it.
Part 2: The Body
Let’s move on to the heart of your email.
In the body, you want to make it clear what the email is about. So before writing it, think for a minute about what the purpose of the email is.
- Are you looking to catch up?
- Do you need a favor?
- Scheduling an outing?
- Or are you just sharing something of interest?
Whatever your intention, be explicit about your purpose at the outset. This gives them some context for what they are about to read and avoids any potential confusion.
If you are extending an invitation, avoid just sending empty requests to “hang out” or “catch up” or “do coffee”. Instead make it easy on them by suggesting a few times (or windows of time) that work for you. If you’re meeting somewhere, take the extra step to vet a few options and suggest those. That just makes it easier on the recipient and avoids a bunch of unnecessary back and forth. It also shows you’re serious about meeting up.
Also, in my lesson about “how to invite friends” which you can check out here, I mention the importance of giving them an “out” so they don’t feel pressured to accept your invitation. So definitely revisit that video for strategies on how to politely invite them and not making them feel badly for turning you down. Life happens. No sweat!
Another pet peeve is that, if you’re sharing an interesting article or video, be sure that you’ve read, watched, or listened to it before sharing! Titles aren’t always a good indication of what’s inside, so if you don’t vet the content first, you might end up sending them something that is a complete waste of their time. If you’re in a rush and must send it before vetting it first, be sure to warn them as much. “I didn’t get a chance to read this yet, but I thought it might interest you!” That way, they at least know it may not be worth reading closely.
Part 3: The Signoff
And the last part we need to talk about is the sign off.
This is not a one-size-fits-all approach but the key with the informal sign off is to make it personal.
I feel like nowadays, everyone’s closing their emails with “Best” or “Thanks” … I’m guilty of this too… but I try to keep that out of my informal emails ‘cause it just doesn’t feel personal enough to me.
If the recipient is an immediate family member, a significant other, or a best friend, it can be as simple as “Love”, XOXO, or anything that shows you appreciate them. If you’re not into the lovey-dovey language, simple and light-hearted works well too, anything like “ciao”, “see you soon,” or “pumped for it”.
But an even better sign off is one that you come up with on the spot. Something authentically you; be it heartfelt, witty, or just plain goofy.
One strategy for that is to think about how you would part in person. Would you kiss, hug, clasp hands, or bust out a special handshake? Try to reflect that in your words.
You be the boss of this one because you know your audience best. If it's warm and personal, you’re golden.
So there you have it: a few pointers for writing an informal email.
- In the greeting your best bet is “Hi and the name of the recipient”, and feel free to include a funny inside joke or phrase.
- In the heart of the email, make sure the purpose is clear and shows you respect their time by doing some advanced planning or vetting.
- As for your sign off, assess the level of intimacy you have with this person and close the email accordingly. Try to make it personal, it’ll put a smile on their face.
Now that you know our strategies for how to write an informal email, I’d love to hear what you think. What strategies do you use when sending an email to someone close to you? What are some ways to avoid getting stuck in an overly formal and serious tone when you’re not trying to be?
Share whatever is on your mind with us in the comments below.
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With that, have an awesome week, Explearners.
Thank you so much for joining me and I’ll see you next time for your next Explearning lesson.
Happy Explearning 😊
Be sure to check out these related lessons as well:
- Communication channels and choosing the best medium for your message
- Email Like A Boss | Formal Email Writing for Professional Communication
- How to invite friends in a cool non-pushy way