Excuse me, your clothes are covered with stains

30 Jul 2010

I just came across a message sent to a LinkedIn group from someone anxious to publicise his new CD:

“I’m proud to announce that my inspiprational and motivational “Amplify Your Success” CD is now available.”

The CD is titled: ‘Highly Effective Back to Basics Approach for Building Your Confidence & Achieving Success’.

We musn’t get too pedantirrational about such little errors. But the subject of track No 7 on the CD is: Make A Great Impression. (Let’s ignore for now the subject of track No 8, which is ‘Confident Communication‘)

Nice suit, pity about the stains

Imagine someone standing before a group of wide-eyed people keen to learn the Secrets of Success. He’s wearing a well-cut suit, smart tie, sparkling cufflinks. He looks smart – and successful – from a distance.

It’s a bit draughty at the back of the room, so you move up to a front seat. You get a closer look at Mr Successful Guru. A little white stain on one of his lapels. Hmm, careless … happens to us all. Then you notice another little stain on one of his sleeves … and then another on his trousers. You start counting them – seven in all.

You haven’t heard a word he’s been saying for a minute or two, so you focus back on his words – in a slightly sceptical frame of mind.

Little thing, big effect

Like stains on one’s clothes, spelling and other types of errors in our writing are little things that can have a big effect.

One or two minor errors don’t matter much (we all do it). Consistently making errors is another matter.

Say someone is offering website services. The marketing message is: Fantastic. Best in the business. Unrivalled service. But the copy is riddled with mistakes, so a secondary message is being conveyed: Sloppy. No attention to detail. Unprofessional.

Yet everywhere you look you see errors – in LinkedIn discussions, forum comments, marketing material, website copy – committed by people who are trying to promote themselves.

A lot of the writing is so slipshod you can’t even work out what the person is trying to say. But that’s a matter for another day.

Yes, I know, this is not a very inspiprational bit of writing, but we need to remind ourselves to pay attention to our words before they go public. If we do, we’re more likely to Make A Great Impression.

(Meanwhile, if you’re doing some public speaking and want to Communicate Confidently, don’t forget to check your clothes before you go on stage.)

David Quin is a content writer and editor/proofreader. You’re welcome to visit his website/blog: SwiftWrite.ie

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