3 Public Speaking Skills To Capture Your Audience

Many people fear public speaking, and they have good reason to. It can be nerve racking to speak in front of strangers, and even more frightening to speak in front of a group of familiar faces. What if you make a mistake? What if you forget your lines, and everyone remembers only how bad your speech was?

The embarrassment of such a public speaking nightmare is enough to deter many people from getting up in front of others and speaking. However, strong speaking skills will increase your career options. To advance your career, here are three public speaking skills to master.

1. Meeting Briefing

This short speech is an important one to learn if you aspire to become a team leader or project lead. A few basic tips can help you deliver a successful briefing. After all, you want to look knowledgeable while connecting with your audience.

Here are 4 steps to preparing and delivering a meeting briefing that your boss and team will appreciate.

Tip 1: Know the purpose of the meeting.

What is the purpose of the meeting? Make sure you cover this point at the start of your presentation. Know how much time you have for your presentation beforehand and bring your watch or use the room clock to keep track of the time.  

Who will be at the meeting? Find out who your audience is to determine what industry jargon or technical material you should or shouldn’t use. When in doubt, use terms that your audience can easily understand.

Tip 2: State the purpose of the meeting.

In one to two sentences, state what the purpose of the briefing is. The focus of your briefing will be these one to two points. A briefing is not as formal as a speech, so only main points need to be written down. You won’t need to prepare your presentation word for word.

Tip 3: Organize your presentation.

Arrange your presentation into three parts. It should have an introduction, three or more main points, and a conclusion. The main points in this outline should have some order, such as chronological, cause and effect, or topical.

Tip 4: Summarize the main points and answer questions.

Review the main points of your presentation by stating them again. Leave enough time to answer questions from your audience.

2. A Speech for a General Audience

Giving a speech to a general audience can be more challenging. You may not know their background or what brought them to your presentation. The following tips will help you engage your audience.

Tip 1: Speak slowly and clearly.

Enunciate each of your words clearly. Sometimes linking too many words together can blur the meaning of a word or make your words harder to understand. For example, “can” and “can’t” can be hard to distinguish when spoken quickly and without emphasis in a sentence.

Speak slowly. One way to judge your speed is by the reaction of your audience. Are they paying attention? Are people nodding?

Tip 2: Avoid slang, idiomatic expressions, clichés, or words with multiple meanings.

It may be tempting to resort to clichés to explain an idea, but your audience may not understand the meaning if they are from another cultural background. For those who have heard the expression a thousand times before, it’s better to provide a fresh way to express an idea.

For example, “off the hook”, “burn the candle at both ends”, or “learn the ropes” are expressions that can be used to describe work situations, but they may have other meanings in other cultures. Some people may interpret the meaning of each word literally.

Tip 3: Watch your body language and eye contact.

Be aware of your body language. Your closeness to the audience, the podium, or edge of the stage sends a message to your listeners.

Standing with arms crossed or standing while slouching also sends a message about your confidence or openness.

Eye contact keeps you engaged with your audience. Try to appear as if you are looking for a few seconds at each person in the room to make them feel like you are speaking to them.

Sales Pitch

You don’t have to have a career in sales to master a sales pitch. This type of presentation is one of the most useful of the three because it’s handy to be able to sell an idea or product. You could be selling someone on hiring you. You could be persuading your supervisor to give you extra time off or to get a promotion. Your sales pitch can be organized in a few key steps.

Tip 1: Organize your points.

Keep in mind that it’s key to get to the point right away. To do this, you want to organize your speech in the inverted pyramid. Talk about the most important point(s) first. What is the purpose of your presentation? Keep the purpose or objective clear.

Tip 2: Have a call to action.

Follow up each point with evidence to illustrate and support your point. Ensure you have a call to action. What do you want the audience to do after hearing your speech?

Tip 3: Use visual aids to support key points in your presentation.

Visual aids can be images, posters, or slides that are large enough and positioned so each audience member can see them. It should also feel natural to work with visual aids. If you feel uncomfortable doing a slide show, for example, then find other ways to illustrate your presentation.

Tip 4: Allow time for questions and answers.

At the end of your presentation, leave enough time to answer questions. Your audience will have the chance to get clarification on what you presented. If you aren’t sure what someone is asking, have them repeat the question. For longer questions, answer them by breaking them down into smaller parts.

Summary

It’s important to be able to express your ideas through public speaking. As a confident speaker, you can persuade others, sell your idea, or present at meetings. If you’re aspiring for a leadership position at work, your ability to speak in public will influence your success. Even if public speaking is not your forte now, you can take a class or join a local Toastmasters chapter to begin improving that skill tomorrow.

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Why You Should Charge More to Keep Customers Happy

What should you do when your competitors charge cheaper rates? Should you lower your rates to stay in the game? Charging less may make sense but it isn’t the best solution. The simple answer is you should charge more.

Here’s why. Think about how much money you save by buying a cheap pen at the dollar store. How would you feel if you lost that pen the next day? Most likely you’ll just get another one without a second thought.

But say you bought a Titanium, 18K limited edition gold pen for $24,000. (Maybe you won’t ever spend that much on a pen, but let’s pretend for a minute that you do.) You bought it to reward yourself for some hard work.

Every so often, you use it to sign only the most important of documents. You invested a huge sum into it, so you store it in a secure place and you always know exactly where it is. You will cherish the pen that costs you more money.

Let’s apply that line of thinking to your clients. How can your business become as valuable to your clients as that gold pen? There’s more to it than just a higher price point. Here are three quick tips on how to charge more while keeping clients satisfied.

Tip 1: Provide Clients with Time

The first reason you should charge more is people value their time. No matter how much or how little money you have, you cannot buy time. Everyone has the same 24 hours a day, and none of us can get that time back when a day has passed.

Exactly how much do people value time? In one marketing experiment involving a lemonade stand, a sign about spending time got twice as much business as a sign about spending money. Another study involving college students and iPods had similar results: time had more value.

If your business provides a service, think about how you can save your client time. For example, what can you do to anticipate your customer’s needs before they make the request? Are there questions they usually ask that you can answer while explaining your services?

A survey by Forrester found that “73% of consumers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do when providing customer service.” When you provide the service that they are looking for, then 93% are likely to return to buy from you again.

That same survey also found that “consumers are willing to spend 17% more on a company that has outstanding customer service.” People will pay more to be treated well.

As a consumer, I’ve returned to a company even if they charged more, because I know they will get things right the first time. Less time to get something done means less stress and money well spent.

Tip 2: Give Them Value for the Price

Now you know that customers are willing to pay more to save time and get decent service. But what if you just started your business and you’re facing tough competition? Would you charge less to stay competitive?

Times are uncertain these days with unprecedented job losses and talk of a possible recession. However, going cheap won’t help your business. 

An example is a free workshop. You’ve probably seen plenty of them offered on Facebook, meetups, and other sites. A free education can improve your skills or knowledge. However, if you have a scheduling conflict or you’re feeling sick that day, dropping the workshop is an easy decision to make. You paid nothing, so you lose nothing by not attending.

It’s a different situation if you paid for the workshop. Let’s say you invested $1000 for the workshop in advance because it will be a gamechanger for your life. It’s highly likely you will make every effort to attend, even if you had a stressful day, or you were sick and lacking sleep.  

It’s about the value. If you bring quality experience to your new business, or you know you’re selling a quality product, charge what you’re worth.

Always think of a pen analogy. You might think that the Graf von Faber-Castel Pen for $2 thousand is kind of pricey. But, consider this: the Fulgor Nocturnus by Tibaldi has a price tag of $8 million.

For one pen.

At a higher price point, you customer will go out of their way to ensure that they value your product or service. They will take care of that expensive pen. They will immediately apply what they learn from your $1000 workshop. You get the idea.

Tip 3: Raise Your Value

You might have done this before: stood in front of two products at the store, comparing them and wondering what exactly you are getting for that price difference. What it comes down to is perceived value.

An example is how Shreddies marketed their square-shaped cereal. They turned the product to the side so it looked like a diamond instead of a square and called it “Diamond Shreddies.” Some people then thought the product had better taste.

Wine tasting is another example of expecting more value with a higher price tag. Some people wonder if expert wine tasters can actually tell the difference between cheap wine and expensive wine.

In a test where an average bottle of wine was poured into two bottles, one with a superior label, and another with an ordinary label, “Forty experts said the wine with the fancy label was worth drinking, while only 12 said the cheap wine was.”

Even expert wine tasters agree: if you pay more, you think you are getting more value. As a business owner with great value to offer from your service or product, don’t be afraid to charge more.

Summary

What do your customers consider as a good product or service? It’s about perception. Understand what they are looking for and what they need. Then provide them with great value at a higher price point. Offer them that gold pen.

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How to Become the Hero in Your Life Story

Are you the hero or the villain in your own story? Most people want to be the hero but it doesn’t always turn out that way.

Sometimes you’re the villain. You become you own worse enemy when you tell yourself you can’t do something and you won’t succeed. But how do you defy that inner voice and outperform your own expectations?

Before we answer that, let’s start with the basics. What is a hero? Wikipedia says a hero is “is a real person or a main fictional character who, in the face of danger, combats adversity through feats of ingenuity, courage, or strength.”

It’s easy to face a challenge we’ve conquered before. But what if our adversary is bigger than anything we’ve faced in the past? How do we outperform ourselves?

The answer to that comes from a formula I learned in writing class. It applies to real life too. It’s not just the stuff of fiction. But you might be thinking, it’s not possible to make your life turn out EXACTLY the way you want it to be!

If the secret were that powerful, that potent, then we’d all be married to a perfect spouse, or we’d be millionaires, or all the nearly extinct species of animals of the world would be saved… and so on, depending on what your vision of an ideal life is. No, that’s not what I mean by secret to success.

The secret to a successful life has three parts, which I’ll explain so that you can begin living that life.

Part 1: The Hero’s Journey – Embrace Change

Which would you rather be: a famous hero or an anonymous one? Everyone has their own preference. Maybe you don’t even want to be famous and that’s okay. But are you happy with your life the way that it is? And if you’re given a chance to change it for the better, what would you do?

Change is sometimes thrown at us. It even happens to those who want to avoid it. Unless you’ve been living in an alternate universe for the last several months, you’ve been held hostage by a pandemic. You used to have a life with a job, a home, friends, family, and a routine.

Then your life flipped upside down. Maybe you lost your job. Maybe someone close to you ended up in the hospital. You’re on a different journey, a roller coaster ride, as you try your best to keep up to date on what you can and cannot do. Face mask or no face mask? Go out and stand apart? Or Zoom meeting and hug the screen?

What will you do now? This is your chance to turn over a new leaf. You might have taken up a new hobby or exercise routine. Perhaps you’re realizing how challenging it is to be with your kids all day, seven days a week. Or maybe you’re thinking it is time for a career change. When the pandemic is over, no one said your life will pick up where you left off a few months ago.

How do you start on this next phase in your life’s journey? How do you become the hero and not the villain? Don’t be the voice of self doubt. Your doubts are you enemy. Try the following tips instead:

Key Takeaways

1. Focus on one goal.

Use the K.I.S.S. method (Keep It Simple, Survivor!). Each day decide on one thing you want to accomplish and get that done. Go for a 15-minute walk. Clean one room of your home. Learn one new thing from one YouTube video.

You may have heard of Bilbo Baggins from the novel The Hobbit. He wanted an ordinary life but getting pushed out of his comfort zone and going on many adventures turned him into a hero. He also experienced a lot of personal growth. How will your goal change you for the better?

2. Challenge yourself.

Don’t accept things as they are. If you lost your job, find another one. (That suggestion is obvious, but the hard part is staying motivated to do this.) It may even be time to look for another career that’s recession proof.

You can change your world the way it is right now. Be ready to climb a steep mountain though. Change isn’t easy.

In the The Truman Show, Truman realizes at one point that he has a pivotal choice to make: continue living the life he knows and be unhappy or venture out to the unknown to pursue his dream. What would you risk to reach your dream?

Part 2: Your Career Defines Your Journey

Your ability to attain success and achieve your dreams depends a lot on your choice of career. It becomes your identity. Think about how you describe yourself to strangers: “My name is ______. I’m a (insert job or profession here).” You might even say, “I’m married with (1? 2? 3?) kids.”

Your job is your status. Most likely it will decide your income level, what type of home you live in, and where you dine, shop, and vacation. It also influences who you meet, your friends, and your significant other.

But what if you want to change where your life is headed right now? Maybe you just graduated and you’re starting your career. How can you land your first job when thousands are losing their jobs these days?

Or maybe you’re mid-career and this pandemic has made you realize your job is vulnerable. How can you change careers without starting from the bottom of the career ladder again?

You’re the hero, the main character of this story. It means the spotlight is on you. Think of the last time you read a book and you were cheering for the hero of the tale.

Someone out there is watching you. How can you inspire them with your actions right now? Maybe your audience is your family. Your children. A friend. Your co-worker, who sees you as a mentor.

Sometimes, you can inspire a complete stranger. I remember reading a story about a young woman sharing her life story in a newspaper article. It made me wonder how I could help other people. So what can you do to reach your career goals?

Key Takeaways

1. Upgrade your skills.

You can do this the traditional way, by investing money in more courses. But now that people are spending a lot more time at home, there is also a lot that you can learn for free. For example:

2. Change careers.

Change is good. With a recession looming and current distancing regulations, people will be rethinking how they interact socially and how they do business. An article in the Financial Times says to “plan for five careers in a lifetime.” How can you re-invent yourself professionally?

Even young entrepreneurs have found a way to start a business by finding what consumers need. Some of these entrepreneurs are also millionaires, activists, authors, TEDx speakers, and product inventors before the age of 20. What need can you fulfill for others? What problem can you solve?

Part 3: You Define Your World – You Create Your Boundaries

Creating your own world may sound like the stuff of fiction. In this case, it isn’t. Like they say, how you see the world in your mind is the world you project on your reality.

If your inside voice – that voice of doubt – says you can’t do it, then the reality is you won’t. Your skills define what you’ll do and where you’ll go. So how will you see your world when you wake up tomorrow? How how can you apply these following tips to define your life?

Key Takeaways

1. Adapt to a new reality.

Your new reality can be harsh but there’s no going back. The coronavirus pandemic will forever change our landscape. Some businesses will permanently disappear. We have a new awareness of cleanliness and health that we didn’t have before.

In The Matrix, when Neo was asked to pick the blue pill or the red one, he didn’t know what would happen. He didn’t even know that his computer skills were transferrable, and that he would use them to shatter his own concept of reality. What will you change?

2. Grow stronger and build on what you have.

How can you build on your current skill set? What skills can you improve on so that you can do your current job more effectively? Do you have skills that are transferable to a new career?

Wonder Woman realized a whole new world existed outside her own when a plane disrupted her reality. She was skilled among the Amazons but almost god-like among humans. What skills do you have that make you stand out?

Summary

You may not be a super hero, but you are still the hero on your journey. Your skills and your mindset define the boundaries of your world and the path you’re headed on for your future. We are like the heroes we read about in books and watch in the movies.

Challenge yourself to complete a goal, upgrade your skills, or redefine who you are. Heroes don’t achieve great things by staying comfortable. So what is your next big step in your journey? Comment below.

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5 Soft Skills that Will Advance Your Career

How important are soft skills when it comes to advancing your career, getting a raise, or showing your employer that you deserve to take on more responsibility?

They’re very important. But before we get into why or the how they are vital, let’s look at why now is the right time to hone your soft skills.

Recent events of the pandemic have changed the lives of millions, and many are now spending more time at home than they are used to. The coronavirus (covid 19) pandemic has brought much uncertainty, with people fearing the future stability of their jobs and finances.

Forget vacations or even splurging on a new pair of shoes: now some people aren’t even sure if they can afford their groceries. So what can you do to increase your chances that you can keep your job, or get a job when a crisis like this occurs?

You can work on your job skills (your hard skills) and improve your career-related knowledge. Or you can start a side gig. Another possibility is to improve your soft skills.

Soft skills are skills that can be learned and developed but not taught. Examples of these skills are communication, dependability, and leadership. They are transferrable from job to job, and industry to industry.

Employers look at your soft skills when considering you for a job, a raise, or more responsibility. They are the bread and butter of your career mobility.

Soft Skills Give Your Career a Strong Foundation

In this pandemic, one question often asked is, “Is your job safe?” And if you’re working now, will you be working tomorrow?

If you used to commute to work, then it might be a major adjustment to find yourself working from home. Or you might have lost your job because you used to wait on tables, or book vacations, or any of the jobs that aren’t so essential now. What do you do with your time?

If you can put in the time, work on your soft skills. Automation is replacing jobs, but artificial intelligence (AI) won’t be replacing soft skills any time soon. Developing skills such as leadership and self motivation will give you an advantage in the workplace. Just what type of advantage will it give you? Let’s take a closer look.

1. Self Motivation

The first soft skill that could take you to the next level in your career, or lead to a pay increase, is your ability to set goals for yourself. How motivated are you?

Some people have found themselves with extra time on their hands because self isolation or quarantine has changed their normal routines. A survey has found that the top five activities during the covid-19 outbreak are:

1. Watching TV Shows and Movies
2. Reading
3. Working Out
4. Arts and Crafts
5. Board Games

Are any of these activities on your list? If so, what have you been watching on Netflix? How long are your workout routines? Which board games have you been playing?

If you’re reading books and watching shows, you could take this time to learn a new language, learn a program (such as Word or PowerPoint), figure out how to do that home improvement project, or learn a new dance step. The possibilities are endless with all the resources available online.

Think about it. There must be some new talent you’ve been itching to learn. It only takes 10 to 15 minutes to discover a new skill. Is there something you can learn that will improve how you do something at work?

When work resumes, what new skill could you add to your résumé? I’ve been watching 5 to 20-minute videos to learn how to use a new computer program. It just takes a little commitment. Start with just a five-minute video to learn something… anything.

Self motivation is the key to making self improvement. Be your own boss, set your own goals, and become Version 2.0 of the new you in a month. With a new skill, you can take on new responsibilities, try out a side gig, or slowly ease your way into a new career.

Next, overcome your fears with the following soft skill.

2. Communication Skills

For many people, public speaking is a major fear, ranked up there with spiders, snakes and haunted houses. About 25% of people are afraid of speaking in public. However, your ability to communicate clearly and speak in front of a large group is what will give you leadership and management opportunities.

Now, you might be happy where you are, working on your own and not leading a team. But being able to communicate is important too. Strong communication skills are powerful to have if you want to sell your boss on your idea or convince a prospective employer on why they should hire you.

Any speech you make, from the 30-second elevator pitch on why the team should vote for your idea, to convincing your boss to give you a raise, is about winning the listeners over and getting them to agree with you.

But what if you’re not good with words? What if they become a tangled-up mess before leaving your mouth?

Joining a Toastmasters club is a great way to work on your speaking skills. However, with covid-19, these clubs are not meeting in person anymore. They have resources on speech making and public speaking that you can still access, and work on practicing even now.

Another reason for having strong communication skills is you will have a talent that’s hard to replace. Technology is becoming more advanced, with chatbots answering customer questions, and the increasing availability of self checkouts. A good communicator, however, is hard to replace. A good communicator can sell you on an idea.

According to LinkedIn, “The ability to communicate is the foundation skill of a salesperson. Many things can be outsourced or automated, but conversations can’t be.”

Strong communication skills are also necessary for leading a team. You need to be able to clearly articulate project objectives and keep communication clear to prevent mistakes.

Clear communication is also handy when you need to solve problems that arise.

3. Creativity/Problem Solving Skills

Can you think of the last time you had a peaceful, perfect, workday? I can’t. There’s usually some challenge or problem to solve because let’s face it: if life were perfect, work boredom would put you to sleep faster than the fastest drying paint.

Each day, you always have some obstacle to face. Sometimes that problem is routine, other times it’s a situation that becomes a war story in your career.

You’ve heard it before at a job interview, when they ask you, “Tell me about a time when….”

Your prospective employer wants to know about your ability to problem solve.  How do you get along with teammates if a disagreement arises? How do you resolve it?

Can you think critically and logically when making a judgement about something? This is your moment to show that you can take on responsibility.

When faced with a new challenge, will you look at it from more than one perspective? This type of creativity shows your ability to take charge and become a leader. Entrepreneurs have strong problem-solving skills and often take the initiative to find a new solution to an ongoing problem.

For example, according to Inc.om, Brit Morin, founder and CEO of Brit + Co, discovered a need in the marketplace. Young women liked her DIY projects and wanted to learn to do what she was doing. She founded her media firm that “included a community of experts in topics like beauty, fashion, food, and home to teach young women the skills they want.”

Also according to Inc.com, Katie Keating and Erica Fite co-founded their agency Fancy. They noticed a need for customers who wanted to be treated as equals. Their target audience was women… who they saw as both “colleagues and as consumers.” Their work was described as “empowering, certainly, but still fun.”

Now, you might be thinking that if you do spend time now to work on your soft skills, or find a problem that you could solve while spending all this time at home, how will you have enough time left over to take in a movie, or have a Zoom house party (since going out isn’t as much of an option these days).

The next soft skill, time management, is crucial for helping your keep yourself organized.

4. Time Management

How can you be efficient with your time? Now that we’re all spending more time at home, it’s tempting to see what everyone else is up to by looking out your window at the neighbours or checking social media for the latest posts from friends and family. A half hour to several hours can easily pass you by.

It’s time to take control with time management. One way to do this is to get a clock, a pen or pencil, and a piece of paper. Yes, there are a lot of planning apps out there. But there’s something more visceral and committing when you’re holding a pencil to paper.

You’re more involved when you handwrite a list of 3 major goals for the day and what you’re going to do to achieve them.

Successful businesspeople like time blocking. They block out their day in increments. Elon Musk schedules his day in five-minute increments. I find those are too short to get a decent amount of creative thinking done, so I like 30-minute increments.

Choose whatever works best for you, by time blocking how many minutes you want to allot to each task. So when you’re ready, take that pencil and start writing down what you want your schedule to be.

When you watch the clock so carefully, you become much more aware of how efficiently you’re using your time. And (quite possibly) you’re more aware how much time you’re wasting each day on unimportant activities. Richard Branson, for example, believes in keeping meetings to the point. Meetings don’t need to drag on needlessly for hours.

He says, “One of my favorite tricks is to conduct most of my meetings standing up. I find it to be a much quicker way of getting down to business, making a decision, and sealing the deal. When given the opportunity, I often like to take things a step further–literally, with a walking meeting.”

How fast do you think you’ll get to the point when your entire meeting is done standing up? Take control of your time. Be effective!

Take advantage of this recent change in our schedules, if you can, to improve your habits. And lastly, develop your skills as a leader.

5. Leadership Skills

Leadership is the fifth soft skill in this list, but it is one of the most important. Leadership is showing initiative and taking responsibility, whether it’s for your own actions or for a team.

Strong leadership skills can motivate and inspire a team. You can keep people on track when under pressure from tight, looming deadlines. Especially when nearing the end of a long and exhausting project, your team may need your encouragement to give them that final push to get to the finish line.

As a leader, you may need to make decisions that affect the team or the project budget. How do you tell someone that they’re not doing a good job and they need to redo their work? What will you do when you realize the project is going to be over budget?

Here’s where communication skills and emotional intelligence come in handy. Emotional intelligence is about your ability to recognize your own emotions and the emotions of others.

Can you show empathy? How can you give criticism that is constructive? And can you take constructive criticism in return? All these are important to good leadership.

Strong leaders build morale and provide guidance to other members on their team. You’re also a constant learner. How can you improve yourself?

There are several resources for working on your speaking skills, such as taking courses to learn new skills (like project management), reading books, or finding yourself a mentor or mastermind group.

Is there a leader you admire? What can you learn from them? For example, Bill Gates is an inspiring business leader and philanthropist. Oprah Winfrey is an inspiration with her media presence and charity work.

The under 20 age group also has influential leaders, although they may not be world renowned yet. Tania Speaks, for example, is an entrepreneur who launched a product because of a personal pain. She founded Brow Boost and “grew the business by 60% in less than half a year”. She also speaks at elementary and high schools about her journey and increases awareness of bullying.

What can you learn about leadership from the leaders around you?

Summary

Your soft skills impact your work life. They can change your responsibilities, your work advancement, and influence your social life. During covid 19, while we grapple with changes in our lives, we can take the time to re-evaluate who we are and who we want to be when things return to “normal”.

If you’ve got the time, it’s your opportunity to work on your soft skills and make a new you.

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Why Editing Is Important

You may have heard the story about how a small edit made the difference between a family dinner and the disappearance of grandma. If you haven’t, then I will explain in a minute why editing is important, whether you run a business, or you’re looking for your next employer.

Small typos can financially impact your business or professional reputation.

Just look at the difference between “Let’s eat, grandma,” and “Let’s eat grandma.” I think most people would rather enjoy a meal together with grandma than have her on the menu. And all it takes is one comma.

Some typing or grammar mistakes are small, but other errors can have an immense impact.

How big of an impact can it have? The cost can be as severe as $620 MILLION to the DEATHS of several people. Something this disastrous is rare, but the point is, careful editing can make you look smart and professional.  Let’s look at some specific examples.

Never Underestimate the Power of Small Errors

If you have a hole in your sock, it’s a small detail that makes you look careless. If you have a hole in your boat and you’re at sea, you’re taking a risk. It’s the same with small errors in your writing, whether online or in print: your web page copy, your emails, your proposals or your reports make a statement about you.

At the very least, spelling and grammar errors can sabotage your first impression with your clients. Common errors include incorrect use of your and you’re, and their versus they’re. These typos create the impression that you write carelessly… making potential clients wonder if you handle your business in the same way.

At most, these tiny typos can also have immeasurable financial cost. It’s a strong case for why editing is important.

For example, Mizuho Securities Co meant to sell single shares for 610,000 a piece, but a typo resulted in selling 610,000 shares for 1 yen a piece. The company lost nearly $340 million in less than a day.

Companies that work with a lot of numbers need to take extra precautions to check that their numbers are correct. A small typo can cause a huge financial loss.

In other cases, the effect can cause confusion or frustration, such as the reference “See Figure 8 on page 123 for the supporting data,” but there is no Figure 8 on page 123. It’s actually on page 133. Not everyone is enthusiastic about hunting around for information.

But that’s not all that can happen when there is a small error. 

A Letter Can Change Your Reputation

In a similar way, spelling mistakes can also range from disastrous to confusing. Some of the most common misspelled words, recieved (received), and seperate (separate), are also very commonly used words. Editing is important when it comes to advertising or guarantees.

For example, during the production process for an ad, a typographical mistake resulted in substituting the “x” for an “r,” so that “exotic travel” became “erotic.” Because of the misprint, the travel agency suffered irreversible damage to its professional reputation and lost nearly 80 percent of its customers.

Also, assuring your customer that you will do everything to complete the project on schedule is slightly different than ensuring that you will do everything according to schedule. In the latter case, it’s best to have a lawyer on hand in case you are late.

So if spelling isn’t your strong point, or you weren’t an ace at spelling bees, the internet is here to help. You can make use of some great spelling resources here and here.

It Does Not Take Much to Cause Disaster

As shown in the previous examples, chaos can ensue over a small omission or typo. You might even be able to relate to this. It’s even happened to me before, although I consider myself to be extremely careful.

I was rushing through a reply in a conversation and realized to my horror that I missed the word “not” in the sentence. What a big difference!

An extreme case that really drives home the point of why editing is important is my next example. The result of cases like these can be financially catastrophic, or can even cost lives.

For instance, the omission of a single hyphen resulted in the detonation of the Mariner probe spacecraft and a total loss of $620 million from the accident.

Similarly, a small clerical error in which a “C” became an “O” meant a rescue crew was dispatched to the wrong location, postponing rescue, and costing the lives of six fishermen.

Your typos may not be as costly as these examples. But minor spelling and grammar errors do come with a price!

The Cost to Business

If you’re still in doubt about the importance of editing, then consider what could happen to your business if you lose the trust of your customers. Or what could happen if your business couldn’t be found. 

The correct use of spelling and grammar is one of the primary variables a search engine analyzes when categorizing and prioritizing websites. Spelling errors for key words can affect search engine optimization, preventing potential customers from locating specific products and services.

One example is an e-commerce website that misspelled their product as “tihgts” instead of “tights”. The mistake resulted in a decline in sales until the error was fixed. Fixing the spelling resulted in an 80% conversion rate. In this case, details do matter.

Great Resources to Improve Your Editing

“A brand that disregards the details by underestimating the importance of proofreading could be a keystroke away from disaster.”—Six Degrees.com 

Fixing typos can be low on your list of priorities if there is a deadline looming, or you are overwhelmed with several important tasks. There are any given number of valid reasons. So what can you do to cut down or eliminate spelling and grammar disasters?

One solution to prevent typos is the use of technology. Word processing programs with built-in spelling and grammar editing features can help to reduce the frequency of some of these types of errors.

It is even possible to create commands to check for certain typos, particularly if you have a habit of misspelling “definitely” wrong …. or forgetting if “between you and me” or “between you and I” is correct grammar. Or you can check if you’re making these common grammar mistakes.

You can even look to some great online resources such as Grammar Girl or Owl Purdue to help you out. To use an analogy, it doesn’t matter if you spent hours digging through your closet for the perfect outfit, or hours fixing your makeup. If your appearance catches looks of approval, that’s what counts: the final result.

However, nothing replaces having a copy editor or proofreader to do a final check for typos and number errors. There are some stubborn mistakes that are acceptable to a grammar editing program, but not to a fresh pair of eyes. An editor will check every detail for accuracy and consistency. 

Final lesson: check, check, and double check. A thorough edit is worth your time!

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