Of course, in today’s work environment, everyone is a writer. And even if you’re not writing the next bestselling novel, it’s still important to deliver clean copy—in a blog post, an email, a newsletter, or a social media post.
When you don’t have face-to-face interactions with your coworkers or clients, your written communications become even more important. Your emails, texts, and posts can shape how people perceive you. Frequent misspellings could give people the impression that you are careless. Incorrect information or poor advice could frustrate your readers. Untimely responses could give the impression that you’re not making others a priority.
If you can’t put your best face forward, it’s time to put your cleanest copy. The catch is that this can be really hard! We all make mistakes, and the likelihood of making an error only increases when we feel like we are working against the clock to respond. When a lot is happening (in the office and around the world) and we can’t slow down the notifications, we find our fingers dancing too quickly on our keyboards.
Here are four quick ways to ensure your communications are the best they can be, no matter the circumstances.
Read and then reread. The biggest mistake you can make when pressing “send” or hitting “post” is not doing a quick proofread for tone, spelling, and grammar. Yes, even a simple email to a colleague, a brief review or a run through your spellchecker can keep you from an incorrect or inconsiderate message.
Don’t be afraid of a template. Not every communication is unique. You likely know about regular messages that go out. Think ahead about various situations and draft up go-to language. For example, a school district could have language on hand to announce a snow day.
Know what could easily go wrong. We all have bad habits. If you know there’s that one word you always spell wrong, take note. Make a list of words you have trouble spelling or you know are frequently mixed up. Your spellchecker might not catch you mixing up “inconvenience” and “incontinent,” but your clients will!
Ask a friend. Once again, we can’t catch everything. We all make mistakes, but friends help us get through them. If you don’t trust your own eyes or spell-check, it’s time to phone a friend. (And if not a friend, try out a free online proofreader like Hemingway App!)