The following sentence was included in an email advertising a seminar: Don’t spend another day struggling to write business documents with that are on target, on topic, and on deadline.
Can you find a mistake in the italicized sentence?
Would an error affect your decision to sign up for the class? It would certainly affect some. It is unprofessional and potentially costly to have mistakes in your documents. No one is perfect, and anyone can make a mistake occasionally, but if you make mistakes frequently, or have a number of them in any one email, your reputation is likely to suffer.
In my writing classes, I teach the following five tips to help catch errors:
1. Read your message aloud. If you read the words slowly, you will often hear any mistakes. Try it out on the italicized sentence above. Reading out loud also helps with the tone of your writing. If it sounds harsh to you, it will sound harsh to the reader.
2. Always look for one. This means that when you are proofing your writing, keep looking until you find an error. And if you don’t find one, keep looking until you do – or until you are absolutely satisfied that there are none to find. It’s easy to miss an error unless you have a strategy for finding one.
3. Have someone else proof your writing. It is easier for other people to catch your mistakes, as they read what you’ve written with fresh eyes. Additional information on business writing can be found in my book The Essentials of Business Etiquette: How to Greet, Eat and Tweet Your Way to Success.
5. Double-check the spelling of the person’s name in the salutation. Many people are offended when others misspell their names. The final thing to do before you hit “send” is to look at the recipient’s address. Often the person’s first and/or last name is in the address. You want the salutation to match the spelling in the address.
PS: The error in the italicized sentence? The word “with” should have been deleted.
Pachter & Associates provides training and coaching on business writing, business etiquette, professional image, assertive communication and conflict. For additional information, please contact Joyce Hoff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 856..751.6141.