Did you notice the spelling error in the headline? Quick…Tell me what impressions you have of me as the originator of said error? Careless? Unintelligent? Lacking credibility? No matter what taste my error leaves in your mouth, it’s bound to be a bad one—particularly if you don’t know me.
Research shows that people are judged harshly by strangers who read their spelling errors, typos or grammar errors (such as their vs. there). This judgement is even harsher if the message is brief, such as an email or social media post. In a short communication, you don’t have the time to prove your worth outside of your mistake.
Therefore, as a business interested in building your network among those you don’t know or don’t know well, proofreading your work matters. We advise always having another set of eyes on anything you write that will be made public and/or will be read by someone you are trying to impress. Even the best writers have editors—in fact, authors we consider legendary typically have at least three. It’s no coincidence, then, that three people have reviewed this very blog post before it was placed on Sterling Kilgore’s website.
Although texting and personal social media have propagated loose grammatical and typographical habits, and may be responsible for making society careless in writing for any channel, don’t fall into this trap. In a world in which large investments in time and money are spent on trusting relationships, spelling and grammatical errors are dangerous. The devil is in the details. Your message—no matter how astute or revolutionary—may get lost as your credibility decreases and you are judged as careless. And your perfectly constructed message aimed at your perfectly targeted audience goes to waste with one slip of a keystroke.
Tips for becoming a better speller:
- Read, read, read – there is no substitute for reading when it comes to hammering home grammar and spelling proficiency—just make sure you are reading materials like published works like books and magazines that have gone through an editing process, as opposed to text conversations or social media
- Play word games – board games and apps will work to challenge your skills and improve your retention while having fun
- Keep your spell check on – spell check is a great way to alert you to inadvertent errors or slips of the fingers
- Keep a list of words you use a lot that you tend to misspell – refer to this working document often, removing words as you master them and adding words as they become a problem
- Write, write, write – practice makes perfect as you model your writing skills from what you read and writing something down helps with retention
As Maya Angelou said, “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” Working damn hard to make sure every message you send to your customers and prospects is proofed and perfect will help you get the results you desire.