In professional settings, people say “next steps” when discussing the next actions that need to be taken in a project. But is “next steps” always the best way to get across that idea? This article will explore some alternatives to “next steps” that you can use in professional emails.
What Can I Say Instead Of “Next Steps” In Professional Emails?
Here are the alternatives to “next steps” we’ll be covering in this article:
- Further actions
- Next phase
- Next stage
- Next move
- Follow-up Actions
- Future actions
- Subsequent phases
- Way forward
- Road ahead
- Next chapter
The preferred option is “further actions.” It gets across the same basic idea as “next steps,” but it uses clearer and more formal language. The wording is also more active. You can use “further actions” just like how you’d use “next steps.”
Although “next steps” is at home in professional settings, it’s not very formal. It’s also not action-oriented. Although the word “step” is describing an action in a sequence, using the word “action” better emphasizes that something must be done.
“Further actions” is more formal and more action-oriented than “next steps.” It’s a more appropriate option for communications with people you don’t know well and people who are at a different hierarchical level in the company.
Here are some ways you can use “further actions”:
- Dear Staff,
- We’d like to thank everyone for their cooperation in filling out the new forms as mandated by the state. There are two more stages to this process. Expect an outline of further actions to arrive in your inboxes within the next three business days.
- Thank you,
- I’ve attached an overview of further actions required for this project to be marked complete. Let me know if you have any questions.
“Next phase” has a wider scope than “next step.” It describes the next chunk of a project, which itself may be broken down into further steps. “Next phase” is useful for large projects and projects with many steps or many people involved.
In project-based workplaces, there are going to be many situations where “next step” doesn’t quite capture the scope of the project. In those cases “next phase” is a great option.
Here are some examples:
- I’ve attached the minutes of our latest planning meeting for Project B. Look out for some emails about the next phase of the project in the coming week.
- I’ve attached a rough outline for the next phase of Project C. I’ll need your input by Friday at the absolute latest.
- Thank you,
“Next stage” has the same meaning and usage as “next phase.” It’s great wording for larger projects, and it is slightly less formal than “next phase.”
Here are some ways you could use “next stage” in an email:
- I have some ideas about how we can organize the team going into the next stage of the project. Are you able to hop on a video call to talk about it sometime today?
- Dear staff,
- We wanted to extend our deepest gratitude for all the work you’ve all put in. We’re moving ahead of schedule, and everything looks great!
- Expect communications in the coming weeks regarding your specific role in the next stage of the project.
“Next move” is a good phrase to use when you’re talking about strategy. While “next step” emphasizes a specific action in a sequence, “next move” implies a more general strategic action that may or may not be broken down into steps and stages.
“Move” in this context describes an action that is working towards achieving a specific objective. A “move” is typically strategic or tactical, similar to a “maneuver.”
Here are some ways you could use “next move”:
- Mr. Jones,
- The financial department is requesting a meeting with you regarding the recent numbers (see attached). They consider this matter urgent and would like your guidance in mapping their next moves.
- Financial Assistant
- Find attached a working copy of our new strategic plan. We are accepting feedback until Friday at noon. Following the approval of this plan, our next move will be to meet as a staff and go over the plan together.
A “follow-up action” is basically a “next step” that serves the enhance or analyze the results of previous steps. It’s a good choice when you want to emphasize growth.
“Follow-up” is a common phrase in professional settings. “Follow-up action” is most often used in the world of finance and economy, but as your colleagues should already be familiar with “follow-up” it shouldn’t need any extra explanation.
Here are some examples:
- I’ve attached a list of follow-up actions management would like you to complete before the end of the month. Email me with any questions and I will direct them to the appropriate party.
- Exec. Assistant
- I have ideas for some follow-up actions we can take on the Jones Project that may enhance our results. Are you available to meet later today?
“Future actions” is a good phrase to use when the “next steps” you want to detail are happening at an undefined or relatively far-off point in the future. It’s also useful if it’s unclear whether any additional steps will be required.
Here are some ways you can use “future actions”:
- Looks like we have everything we need for now. I’ll be sure to let you know if there will be any future actions attached to your part of the project.
- We completed stage three in planning year’s donor event!
- We’ve attached the working outline for stage four. Please keep in mind that even if you have no tasks in stage four you will likely have future actions associated with this project.
“Subsequent phases” has a similar meaning and usage as “next steps.” The primary difference is “subsequent phases” is more formal language that may be more appropriate to use in some business settings.
As with “next phase,” “phases” gives us a larger scope than “steps.”
Here are some ways you can use “subsequent phases” in professional emails:
- The goal of Tuesday’s meeting is to map out the scope of subsequent phases of the Landon Project. The team wants your input, so I hope you’ll be able to make it.
- Hello all,
- As we’re thinking about the subsequent phases of this project, please don’t forget to refamiliarize yourself with the budget. Don’t discard your grand ideas, but remember we’re fairly limited this year.
- Talk to you soon,
“Way forward” is focused on the journey rather than specific steps or actions. It’s more general than “next steps” so can be large or small in scope.
“Way forward” is a common phrase in speech-writing. It’s typically used when the speaker wants to make a statement about the process of change or growth.
It’s particularly favored when the journey is expected to be difficult or when it’s a journey out of a difficult or uncertain situation.
Here are some examples:
- With recent sudden staff changes, we know there is a lot of stress and uncertainty going around. As such, we’re planning on dedicating a chunk of next week’s staff retreat to discussing the current situation and mapping a new way forward.
- Thank you for everything you do,
- I’m trying to map our way forward with this project in light of recent announcements, and I’m hitting a wall. I would love your input. can we meet sometime today or tomorrow?
“Road ahead” is similar in meaning and use to “way forward.” It’s an idiom that focuses on the journey, particularly in light of difficulty.
The phrase “road ahead” can be used to refer to a literal road but in this case “road” is being used metaphorically. It’s similar to how “path” is often used to describe a metaphorical path of a journey.
Here are some ways you can use “road ahead”:
- The road ahead is starting to look rough, but I’m fully confident in our ability to push through. Everyone is extremely busy, but please keep in mind that self-care comes first. Don’t work yourself ragged!
- You were supposed to be invited to this meeting. Here’s the info. The goal is to look back at the exhibits we’ve held in the Jones building over the past decade and use that insight to start mapping the road ahead.
“Next chapter” functions similarly to “next phase” and “next stage.” However, “chapter” implies a more significant milestone than “phase” or “stage.” As such, it’s typically used to describe something very large in scope.
“Next chapter” is a common phrase typically applied to milestones in life. For example, you’ve likely heard the phrase “the next chapter in my life.” This implies that something has finished and you’re about to venture into something new.
Professionally, “next chapter” is great for speaking about the company or a team in general. Here are some examples:
- With the wrap-up of Project A, we’re moving into our next chapter. We’ll be talking about what’s next at Monday’s check-in.
- Great work on the donor events everyone! Get some rest and on Monday we’ll talk about what the next chapter holds for us.
- Thank you!
You may also like: 10 Better Ways To Say “As Per Our Conversation”
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.