Monday, 27 July 2009

"Long after the cost is forgotten, the quality endures" steal a line from Sir Henry Royce, co-founder of Rolls Royce.....

A few weeks ago I was at a networking meeting. This meeting was thrown together at the last minute and was full of professionally dressed, high-flying businessmen and women.

The first presenter, a young sales executive from Birmingham, stood up and gave an engaging, thought-provoking, five-minute speech about the importance of connecting with customers, instead of selling to them.

Within minutes, she had the audience engrossed and hanging off her every word. I was impressed. This woman had charisma and bags of intelligence. Even her outfit blew us all away.

This girl meant business. And boy, was she going to get some. After all, you couldn't fault her style, her message and the way she delivered it. We were already shifting in our seats, mentally queuing to buy from her.

At the end of her presentation, her assistant passed around a handout to accompany the speech.

And that's where it all went wrong.

Although beautifully presented, with great use of colour and plenty of white space for easy reading, this 4-page document was riddled with spelling and grammar errors. These weren't even misspellings of difficult words: 'business', on the title page was missing one of the final 's's. The name of her biggest customer was spelled incorrectly. Several sentences finished without a point...

I'm sad to say that her speech was forgotten. Her remarks about paying attention to detail when you liaise with customers were laughable.

No one bought from her that day.

The lesson

Proofreading and editing is key to your (and your company's) credibility. Some of these mistakes would have been picked up by a Word Processor's built-in spell check, but most of it wouldn't.

Fortunately for the professional editor and proofreader, computers don't have the syntactical knowledge to be able to read a sentence and glean that it is unintelligable.

However, proofreading doesn't have to be a laborious and tedious chore. You can make it easier by doing simple things like reading out loud, reading the text backwards, or simply printing the words on to a coloured sheet. Reading on a different colour can really help you catch those mistakes.

Or, of course, you can pay a professional to do it for you, in half the time, and with guaranteed results.

Don't get caught out by the typo your brain skipped.

For more information on why your brain will trick you when you're reading your own work, please click here.

To contact me about proofreading, editing or copywriting, please visit my website or call 01293 574160 for more information.

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Friday, 10 July 2009

Creative Writing Workshop: Meeting Two

I am pleased to announce that we have a new member of East Surrey Creative Writing Workshop; Brian, who's a salesman from Epsom. Brian contacted me last week and came along to see how he found the meeting.

Present: Tannice, Brian, Alex.

Susi and Liz were unable to attend, but we discussed their practice work.

Meeting 2's Task

Alex and I kicked off by going through Liz and Susi's practice material. The task this week was to write a synopis with 2/3 characters, a setting and an ending. Members had a theme choice of a) Romance, (b) Thriller or (c) Sci-fi. (500 words).

We set this task as both Alex and I were finding it difficult to end our great stories.

Meeting 3's Task

The practice task for our next meeting (22nd July) is a poem.

The poem must be around 100 words (+/- 10%). The theme is your choice, but there must be at least one rhyming couplet.

Recommended metre: iambic pentameter (optional).

If you'd like to join East Surrey Creative Writing Workshop, please contact me on with the subject 'Creative Writing'.