How to ensure that you’re not misunderstood.

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When we embark on a writing project it’s wonderful when we have some inspiration or a train of thought to follow.  It makes writing so much easier.

Often, we like to go with the flow and let the inspiration carry us from the first word until the last. It feels really good.  The writing is easy, the words flow and we feel that we’ve really expressed the heart of what we want to say.  The reader will definitely see things our way…

Not so fast.  Before you hit the send key to fire off your message or to send your item to your client or publisher – here are a few steps that can save you some major embarrassment – not to mention lost opportunity.

  1. Leave your piece to settle. Go away for half an hour or a day or so. Do something different.  Then come back and slowly read what you’ve written aloud.  You’ll be amazed at how many changes you’ll want to make to improve grammar, readability and clarification.
  2. Once you’ve done that – leave it again for a while.  Then read it aloud again. If it sounds as good as you think it should, then take the final step before releasing it:
  3. Send it to a few people who fit your target demographic and ask them to read it and tell you what it meant to them. You’ll be amazed at how many times they’ll understand something quite different to what you intended. Make the necessary changes and now, you’re finally ready to go public.

By default, this means that you should never try to write and release something in a rush.  Invariably you’ll regret it. Often because there obvious mistakes – and sometimes these can be very costly.  For instance, if you’re writing to customers about a promotion, a common oversight is forgetting to put in any disclaimers such as “Limit one per customer” or “Offer valid until …” or “exludes…”  all of which can cause many problems at the point of sale – including unhappy customers, lost profits and, if you’ve done the promotion for a client, an unhappy client.

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