I was just reviewing some files from a high-end coaching program I was in last year. Each element, without fail, had spelling errors in it. I am not talking about obscure grammar or punctuation stuff. These were flagrant typos that spell check and a quick proofread would have caught.
What were the messages I got from this? The coach I was working with either didn’t care enough about her product or her clients to properly edit her documents (or have someone competent do it) or she was an ineffective communicator. It created a concern about her credibility, even though I had followed her for over a year before signing up.
In my business, and when I work with companies to support their recruiting function, a resume gets deleted the moment a spelling mistake is found. Other times, such as when attention to detail is important to being successful in the position, I ask a question in the job posting that the applicant is required to answer in the cover letter. No answer to the question? It gets tossed. An applicant only has one shot at making a first impression and the cover letter and CV form that first impression.
In your business, maybe the first impression you give is an email to a prospective client. Or a Facebook post. Or a sales page. How many times do you think people click away when they find that first typo? Or the second typo? Or have you trained your readers to disregard your messages because they see them as spam?
I tell people in Customer Service Training that they have 5-6 seconds to make a first impression. I suspect it is similar in the online world. Now we rely on spell checker to catch our mistakes. However, you cannot trust your spell checking software to find all of the mistakes. It will capture words that are not in the dictionary, and it will let a properly spelled, incorrect word through, too.
My last story about spelling comes from some Human Resources coaching I did last month. A few members of Board of Directors for one of my clients took it upon themselves to scrutinize the public documents that came out of the main office. They attacked every element from spelling and grammar, to formatting and style. It was a veritable hunt to find everything wrong and pin it on one person. This person did not deserve that level of scrutiny partly because most of the documents were posted by someone else years ago. I am sure that, at the beginning, it was a well-meaning gesture to ‘make things better’. However, it escalated into an attack and feelings were hurt. A toxic environment was created. (Naturally, that was when I got called in to fix things.) Following a few standards like spell checking and having style templates would have saved everyone some grief.
As you go about your business, I have the following tips:
Choose your words carefully. Proofread your documents. Spelling is a fundamental component to your success.