Do you love listening to music while you’re working? I sure do. Not only does it help keep me awake but it can help set the mood if I need a certain mindset.
Unfortunately, my favorite music can be distracting. Whether it’s Darius Rucker, Chris Stapleton, Mose Allison, or 70s disco tunes, it’s easy for me to concentrate more on the song lyrics than on my proofreading and copyediting projects. Being distracted when you bill by the hour doesn’t work and isn’t fair to clients. Luckily, there’s a simple solution.
All I had to do was create some awesome playlists—with instrumental music. Mine are on Pandora and Spotify. They’re perfect for those times when I need to focus, whether it’s for my clients or this blog post.
Don’t mistake instrumental for only classical tunes, although I do enjoy Chopin. There are so many lyric-less options! Here are a few of my favorites:
Want to know what else works for me? Sometimes I turn on sports or a news station that I’m not interested in. For me, it’s often sports on ESPN or hardcore economics on Bloomberg. The sound serves as the perfect background noise. Podcasts and foreign language stations also work well. As long as the voices are pleasant and neutrally-toned, it’s easy to stay engaged with my work without letting the content interfere.
Give some of these playlists a whirl. See if any work for you to pump up your productivity, minus those distracting lyrics! Enjoy!
Have you ever wished you had a superpower? Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could fly? Or be in two places at once? As an administrative professional, you need a collection of superpowers to excel. One of your superpowers needs to be proofreading.
As a professional proofreader and communications professional, I’ve seen numerous content errors—ranging from silly and commonplace to wildly embarrassing. In truly terrible cases, proofing errors can damage companies’ reputations or cost people their jobs.
Developing Your Proofreading Superpowers
For administrative professionals, there’s good news. At the IAAP CAPstone 2018 conference, I’ll teach you how to use advanced software settings for Microsoft Word and Microsoft Outlook to enhance your proofreading capabilities. If you’ve never explored each program’s settings and preferences, you are missing out! Customizing your software instead of sticking with the defaults—well, it makes all the difference.
You’ll also learn some amazing personal habits as well as software add-ons that will transform you into a Superhuman Proofreader. You’ll be able to use your newfound knowledge immediately.
Proofreading Tip #1
In fact, let's cover Proofreading Tip #1 right now. This personal habit will help you with your emails, and it’s easy to develop. Even better, it doesn't matter which email program you use—and it’s free. The next time you start to email someone, skip the To, CC, and BCC fields. That's right—leave them blank while you fill out the subject line and compose your message. This tip repeatedly saves the day because it's impossible to send an email that you haven’t addressed. Filling out the recipients last affords you plenty of time to run spell check or review once more before you click Send. This habit has helped me time and again, whether I had misspelled my client’s name or missed a simple but glaring typo.
Prep for Your CAP Certification (Domain 2, Outcomes 1–3)
This session will help administrative professionals prepare for the CAP Certification. We will be focusing on proofreading technologies for the modern professional. You can use what you learn in this session at any job or any employer, regardless of their style. Whether you’re working for a prestigious law firm or a local craft brewery or freelancing as a virtual admin, you’ll be able to use these tips like the rockstar administrative professional you are.
Supercharge Your Proofreading Skills
Don’t miss this great opportunity to expand your skills and make proofreading one of your superpowers! Register to attend IAAP’s CAPstone conference, March 5-7, 2018, in Atlanta, Georgia: iaap-capstone.org
Now that you’ve finished ringing in the new year, take a minute to review your company’s website. While some of these editorial changes occur with the advent of the new year, it’s also an excellent opportunity to update other evergreen areas that often get overlooked.
Consider these ten suggestions a basic Q1 checkup. While you’re at it—why not add a calendar reminder for each quarter, or at least once a year? Then you can rest assured that your site is always representing you at your best: up-to-date and error-free. Or, get help from Luminary Works with our budget-friendly Website Review service.
1. Copyright Year: If you list a year or range of years with your website’s copyright notice, update it for 2017. The same concept applies if you have digital templates (like email templates) that include copyright dates. Update those so that your future content includes the correct date or date range.
2. Years in Business: If your website boasts the fact that your business has been around for something like 13 years, over five years, or more than a decade, make sure the numerical reference is accurate.
3. About Pages: If your “About” section lists key employees, financial stats, locations, or other details, double check to ensure that the information is correct.
5. Meta Data: For your homepage and other key pages, take a look at the meta title and meta description. These appear in search engine results, so they need to be spot-on.
6. Images: Review your website’s images. Because you can’t do a “search and replace” to update them, they are often forgotten when it comes to annual updates. Also, double-check for typos, as these are often missed in images.
7. Social Media: Review your company’s description in each profile (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.) to ensure that the information is correct. Also, check that the links from your website to each social profile function properly.
8. Other Sites: In addition to the typical social media sites, don’t forget to check other ancillary systems that display info about your business. Things like Google Maps, career sites, reservation systems, email newsletter systems, and any other system where you have a profile.
9. Tech-Savvy Words: Language evolves quickly, especially "tech words." Unfortunately, this evolution can make your site look dreadfully old-school if you're not changing with the times. Update spelling, hyphenation, and even capitalization of key words such as email (not e-mail), website (not web site or Website), blog (not weblog), and online (not on-line). Also consider other terms that are more subjective, including eCommerce and mCommerce (or e-commerce and m-commerce). Overall, strive for consistency.
10. Bonus Features: And don't forget about functionality. Links should work! Your site should load quickly. Make sure your site works seamlessly on a smartphone. And, bonus points if the pages on your site can be printed—yep, on real paper with a printer—with the important elements intact and with proper formatting.
Now, get back to having a wonderful and successful 2017!
Allow me to share a story with you.
Recently, I was looking for an accountant to help me set up my accounting software (Xero). On its website, this particular accounting firm had a nice design and prided itself on being tech-savvy. Sounds great, right? Well, yes… except that so many things about the website felt contrary to that tech-savvy mentality they were trying to sell me on.
Specifically, the word choice throughout the site was anything but tech-savvy and other areas were just downright unprofessional in their carelessness. A few examples—also included in the slideshow below:
So I didn’t contact this accounting company. Maybe they are amazingly tech-savvy but hired the wrong copywriter. Taking time to vet them seemed like a waste of my time. It was quicker and easier to find someone else (whose website had only one typo, which I gently pointed out).
I know better than to think that everyone is a word nerd like myself. However, most people learn these basic rules at a young age. Subconsciously or consciously, they recognize when something is off. Doubt and distrust enters the picture. You're trying to sell them on a message, but they realize that something is wrong—is it your purported area of expertise or simply your grammar? Will they stick around long enough to find out, or just click away to the next competitor?
Moral of the story: Don’t let poor copywriting—whether it be word choice, grammar, punctuation, or misspellings—undermine your expertise and your marketability.
Solutions? A few come to mind...
Did you know October 20 is National Day on Writing? Created by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), this special day “celebrates the importance, joy, and evolution of writing.” Look for a flurry of tweets using the hashtag #WhyIWrite.
Whether you’re a writer of books, blogs, or business reports, take time to reflect on the quality of your writing. Is it clearly written? Is it free of spelling errors and other blunders? Will it achieve your objective? Will it resonate with your audience?
If you’re trying to improve your writing, consider the guidance from these books. They will help to ensure that your “practice makes perfect” rather than “practice makes problematic habits.”
When it comes to writing, follow Nike’s advice and “just do it!” Write. Edit. Repeat. Happy National Day on Writing!
Having a clear, concise, error-free website is imperative. Even better, it doesn’t have to break the bank – or your budget.
Consider allocating a small amount in your 2017 budget for editorial services. When is the last time someone reviewed your website (or your “evergreen” printed marketing materials)? I frequently spot mistakes in these areas—even ones that spell check would catch. While minor errors may not be the end of the world, their presence subconsciously lowers your level of professionalism to your customers and prospects. When you’re trying to close the deal, doubt is the last thing you want standing in the way.
Depending on the size of your site or your printed pieces, editorial reviews can be completed quickly, which translates to inexpensively. That fresh set of eyes makes all the difference, and your prospects can keep their eye on the prize.
If you’re interested in getting a quote specific to your project, let me know.
In honor of National Punctuation Day, remember these five quick reminders to make sure your messages are spot on:
If you're itching for more helpful reminders, I like this 16-point list from Inc.com.