#BecauseSpellingMatters #NowWeKnow #DoThatThing
This past week my social media news feeds have been filled with photos of well-dressed and neatly-groomed school-aged children on the first day of school of the new school year. I am sure that both Facebook and Instagram have seen a noticeable spike in parental posts. And, while no two posts have been exactly alike, there have been many similarities. Big smiles. Natural tans. The latest colors and fashions. Fresh haircuts and styles. And lots of new shoes.
The associated comments of the glowing parents and grandparents have also showed some similarities. Optimism. Pride. Gratitude. Relief. Wonderment. And a whole lot of misspellings, grammatical errors, punctuation mistakes, and capitalization blunders.
The following examples have been taken directly from proud back-to-school posts and comments:
- “were So proud of are high schooler”
- “your going to have a Gr8 year”
- “you guys our the best Ever”
- “summers finally over and were So Happy shes gone for her senor year.”
- “their all growing Up So fast and were So proud of everyone of them”
- “we knew You could do it. Papa wood Be so proud of you if he we’re still hear.”
Seriously? Seriously. Personally, I feel my teeth grinding against each other and hear two sets of fingernails scratching a chalkboard – all at the same time – when I read such language usage. But I am sure that I, too, do things that annoy others. We all sin differently.
And while grammatical inaccuracies and punctuation slip-ups on social media posts are neither new nor the end of the world – after all, it’s the intent that counts, right? – the irony rests in the championing of education with posts that simultaneously dishonor it – albeit indirectly and unintentionally. Nevertheless, social media, in all its revelatory grandeur, is a terrific teacher and provides a great study hall.
Rightly or wrongly, how we communicate has a huge influence on what we communicate. Especially when we communicate in writing. Our delivery can either strengthen our messages or undermine them. The power of our written stories and messages can be significantly weakened when we don’t focus on both what we are sharing and how we are presenting it. Poor or lazy grammar, punctuation, or capitalization can be everything from distracting to a reader to a total turn off. It can also hurt the credibility of the story and the storyteller. If the message we are trying to communicate is not important enough for us to share it correctly, i.e., spellcheck, review our grammar, etc., why is it important enough for a third party to read it?
Especially today. The sheer volume of people, things, and causes fighting for our time, money, and attention is more than overwhelming. And that is no less true for all of the written communications that clamor for our consideration. Emails. Texts. Articles. Social media posts. News stories. Blog posts. Homework. White papers. Books. The list is nearly endless. And poorly-drafted and mistake-laden written-communications simply do not contend successfully in competitive environments.
And if the subject written-communication is commercially oriented, e.g., marketing collateral, an outbound email to a client, advertising copy, etc., the importance of the underlying composition, e.g., grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc., simply cannot be overemphasized. Grammar, syntax, punctuation, spelling, and capitalization matter. Commercial opportunities and successes can be directly influenced by how we say (write) what we say (write).
A so-called content creator who posts self-promoting copy on Facebook using misspelled words and poorly-ordered sentences plugging her writing services undermines her own credibility and her own prospects.
A professional-services company promoting meticulously-delivered services with marketing copy that is riddled with grammar and capitalization mistakes undermines its own standing and reduces its own opportunities.
A high-priced product promising to solve complex problems whose packaging is prepared with misspelled words and punctuation errors undermines its own promises and sales potential.
Why? Because how we put things in writing matters. The time, attention, and resources that we allocate to preparing, drafting, editing, reviewing, and refining our written communications will pay dividends long after we complete the actual writing itself. In the marketplace, our written communications are a reflection of our professionalism, commitment, depth, passion, value, and brand – personal and professional. And, unlike many other factors, our writing and written communications are within our control. Consequently, we get to choose and create for ourselves. We get to ask and answer the questions: What do we want our writing to reveal about us? Our companies? Our brands?