Athletes and salespeople know that when they get in a slump it’s usually because they strayed from the fundamentals. Communicators face the same problem. Often in a hurry, they cut corners, only to see the quality of their work diminish.
These pointers will help you stay sharp.
Think, then act: How often have you quickly blurted out a comment or pounded out an e-mail? Did you ever wish you could take it back? Always pause a few moments to compose your thoughts and emotions before responding. Your judgment must be based upon reason, not passion.
Edit your material: Few of us can write clean, concise copy in one pass. Review your text for wordy sentences, redundant adjectives, and other fluff. Grammar must be at professional grade. If you’re having difficulty here, seek out a remedial course.
Use active voice often to add zip to your material. Employ your mental knife to cut the fat from around the meat of your copy. Avoid clichés and minimize metaphors.
Abide by all the rules of grammar, including punctuation and capitalization. Don’t send out something that appears to have been written by a teenager.
Proofread diligently: Don’t rely on spell check to catch your mistakes. Only your brain knows that you meant you’re instead of your and too instead of to. Another common mistake is to omit the ‘r’ in your, so you end up with a sentence like, “I received you report.” Ouch!
These rules apply to all platforms, including social media. I’ve seen really poor writing on Facebook and even LinkedIn. Those are important avenues for establishing your identity. Treat them with respect.
Rehearse: This is another area that tends to get short changed. The more familiar your material is, the less you will have to rely on notes. Record your presentation, and listen for any changes you need to make. You will be amazed at how differently you sound; you may not be as polished as you thought.
Adjust the speed of your voice to avoid running through words, and replace any that you have difficulty saying clearly. Listen, also, for any filler words that must be eliminated.
This is a good time to test any A/V equipment you are using. Don’t let faulty equipment turn a great performance into a humiliating disaster.
Just as a good wine requires time and patience to perfect, so does it take concentration on your part to produce error-free copy and presentations. But the results are worth it. You will regain your confidence and be rewarded with work worthy of your name.
For related reading, see “Minimize jargon for a clearer message” .
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