by John Ingrisano
“Thankls yo for your ordr. We will skip it iwtnng two wbusi9ness days.”
Ever get an email, letter or memo like that? Sure, that may be an extreme example. However, we all see messages like this way more often than we should. (And, yes, I admit, typos get by me from time to time. They happen; however, I work hard to reduce them.)
It’s a three-fold problem: First, thanks to the internet, we receive and send a ton of email these days. As a result, the potential for errors is high. Second, thanks to the pace of business, we’re in a hurry. When we receive those hundred or more emails each day, we are tempted to fire off responses in a mad rush. Third, thanks to a broken educational system, we’re not learning solid writing skills in school anymore. I’m seeing younger men and women who lack a knowledge of many of the basic writing skills.
Still, no excuses, when we let sloppy copy get out the door or slip through the internet, here is what is says about us:
- We are uneducated. Even if we have five college degrees, our writing says we need to go back to third grade.
- We’re lazy, irresponsible, and unmotivated, not even willing to take just ten minutes to read through and proof our copy before sending it out.
- We do not have an eye for detail. In other words, we’re sloppy.
Most of all, poor writing hurts our credibility. Most errors creep into our copy because we’re in a hurry. That’s understandable. We’re busy, and we end up firing off emails, memos and letters at breakneck speed. Still, sloppy copy hurts us, and it can hit us where it hurts most … in our bottom line.
What to do:
- Proof-read your copy. If it is worth sending out, take ten minutes to make sure it is right. Don’t have the time? Then come in 30 minutes early each day. If it is worth writing, it is worth getting right.
- Get someone else to proof your copy, especially if you are weak in your writing skills. Delegate it to someone who knows the difference between “effect” and “affect,” or when to use “who” and when to use “whom.”
- Don’t ever think that it does not matter. A lot of folks think it is very important. I have seen people lose contracts because the prospect caught a basic spelling/grammar error that destroyed the sender’s credibility. Remember, some people love and appreciate words and writing. They will take offense (and judge the writer harshly) when spelling and grammatical errors go out.
- Take a course to improve your writing skills. A one- or two-day seminar on basic grammar and proofreading can improve your writing dramatically. It is that important. Just do it.
The bottom line: Poor writing skills can cost you money, alienate customers, and make you look incompetent.
Work hard. Make money. Have fun. And when you write your next letter or email, take the time to write it right! — JRI
The Freestyle Entrepreneur – winner of the 2010 Top 35 Entrepreneur Blog awards from OnLine MBA.
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