Oops. That should have been Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery.

Following up on Charlotte’s previous post on Ben Yagoda’s New York Times piece about the misuse of commas, I wanted to remind us all about the importance of having someone else proofread our handouts and visuals. Our eyes are not enough.  Nor is spell check. That’s why I sent an email to a “Brian” instead of a “Bryan” (it still stings). It’s why some poor conferee was walking around wearing a name tag that read “Center for Pubic Policy.” The worst.

I received the following sentence in an email last Friday from a client who was trying to explain his goals for an upcoming workshop:

“How boast moral in our department and ways to effective communicate better with my boss.”

I’m guessing that spellcheck didn’t detect the errors, nor did it show that squiggly line indicating potential grammar problems. As a result, this sentence screams “I don’t care!” or worse, “I am stuck on stupid!” I know I am not alone in my reaction.  I saw a tweet recently that said, “All you iPhone users: stop adding ‘sorry for the typos, I used my iPhone’ to your texts as if it lets you off the hook!”

Two days later I was in a meeting in which a speaker was explaining the reason why the company’s financial status did not allow for any bonuses this year – clearly a topic that everyone in the room was focused on.  Up came a PowerPoint slide with not one, but two typos.  First, the decimal point was in the wrong place, indicating that the budget was in much better shape than his words implied. Second, on the bullet introducing the new VP of Finance, the slide said “VP of Fiance.”  No l’accent aigu on the “e” so I would assume no one noticed the error when they loaded the presentation onto the shared drive.  The new VP of Finance noticed.  At least the senior leadership team had a good laugh over it.

If you want to be more influential, and avoid any dings to your credibility, then be sure to take the time to make your visuals sing in harmony with your delivery.

– Barbara