In elementary school I imagined myself growing up to be a teacher, sitting behind a desk with red pen in hand and grading a stack of papers. While I did not become a teacher, I do find myself frequently called upon to proofread the company communications, business proposals and client-facing presentations. I even sometimes make use of a red pen to mark corrections, but more often I use the electronic version of tracking changes commonly referred to as “redlining”.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” That is true not only in face-to-face meetings but in written communications. It can take just one misspelled word or a couple of grammatical errors in a resume or business proposal and the writer’s lack of attention to detail can tarnish their professional image and impact a business opportunity before they’ve even had a chance to speak.
With the frequent use of texting, emailing and multi-tasking that goes on in today’s busy world, it seems that the habit of casual writing, using abbreviations, and simply not taking the time to proofread what one has written have become all too common. I know I’m guilty of all those things at one time or another. Yet, I’ve been known to criticize business communications I receive that have errors in them. However, taking a few extra minutes to make sure words are correctly spelled, sentences are complete, and punctuation is perfect can make the difference in clearly communicating your message. Especially when it’s the first impression you are giving of yourself to a company.
To highlight the importance of taking the time to “write for success”, Judy Beaver founded National Proofreading Day. Beaver’s mom, Flo, loved to correct people, especially for their language errors. So, Flo’s birthday, March 8, is the day to encourage people to correct their writing. The national events include a daily countdown with 30 Proofreading Tips in 30 Days on Twitter. Check out The National Proofreading Day website for great links to Web sites, books, and blogs that know the value of an error-free message! If you need a laugh, you can read funny examples of what not to do as identified by the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar or earn your Grammar Police Deputy Badge. You can even take part in an on-line poll about what you think when you see an error in an e-mail.
On March 8th I challenge you to commit to proofing all your written communications – before hitting the send button. Oh, and treat yourself to a new a red pencil!