Communications: The Importance of Proofreading Part 2

Yesterday, I received an email about an event that had previously been advertised as being about “crown funding”. As it turns out, it was nothing to do with royalty handing out wads of cash (sadly), but actually related to a discussion on “crowd funding”.  Mild hilarity ensued for a moment, and then…

The person who sent that email is far from alone in making mistakes. It’s not my intention to single him out, or criticise him personally. That said, I can’t help noticing – over a period of many months – that almost all his emails contain mistakes: a spelling or grammatical boo-boo, an incorrect hyperlink, a factual error.

Well, it’s my job to get the writing right, so I would notice these things, wouldn’t I? True, but I’m not just talking about dull grammatical technicalities or quibbles about writing styles, here. I’m talking about giving out the wrong date, location, event name, hyperlink or price – all factual information that can be validated.

Careless mistakes will stop you from putting your message across clearly, effectively and accurately. Your communications are just not working hard enough for you. They may even be starting to work against you.

Certainly, for me, the cumulative effect of such mistakes is to devalue the sender’s message and reduce confidence in their brand. It makes words like “slapdash” pop into my head and makes me wonder why I’d entrust my business to them if that’s representative of their level of attention to detail.

Of course, no-one’s exempt from the odd mistake now and again. Life is busy and it’s hard enough to make sure you reach your customers/subscribers in good time with your latest business news or information about upcoming events. Details can change quickly, too – a venue might let you down at the last minute, a date needs to change or a price has to be recalculated. All this on top of a day’s work.

Yet there is a simple solution that will eradicate most mistakes, and that’s proofreading.

If you’d rather not give your readers the impression that you’re in a bit of a hurry or easily distracted by shiny things, make sure you take a few minutes to proofread what you’ve written before you hit “Send“, before you call the print agency, before you go public.

Once you’ve drafted out your content, save it and come back to it a bit later: the following day, if there’s time. Better still, get someone else to read it through for you. Even if you’re eagle-eyed, it can be really hard to spot mistakes in what you’ve written yourself, simply because you’re too close to it. You know exactly what you were trying to say. Come back to your text later, with fresh eyes and you’re more likely to tell whether or not you succeeded in saying it clearly. Reading it out loud is also a good way to check that your text makes sense.

Even when you need to make last-minute changes, take a deep breath and proofread one more time, to make sure that any updates you’ve made are consistently applied across the message.

Summed up in 4 easy steps:-
1) Write stuff
2) Proofread (or get someone else to) – check factual accuracy, follow links, read aloud
3) Repeat steps 1 + 2 until you’re sure it’s right: take your time on this
4) Send/publish

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