Just How Important Is Proper Grammar When it Comes to Business Presentations?
It takes more than just good speaking skills to give a top-notch business presentation. Good writing speaks volumes about the person and company behind the presentation. No matter how strong the content being presented, if it’s littered with grammatical or spelling errors, it will come off as amateurish and unprofessional.
Your presentation is the blueprint to the work you’ll be doing if you’re hired, and they’re not just judging it. They’re judging you. Follow this guide to achieve perfection in the language that you use.
Your first draft is never your best work. There are no exceptions to this rule. No matter what it is you’re writing, and no matter how much time you invested in writing it, a second draft will always improve your document.
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A good presentation requires both good speaking and writing.
It’s easy — even beneficial — to get lost in the flow of writing. But it’s also easy to gloss over grammatical errors while you’re in the zone. Write until you’re finished, step away to eat or work out or whatever it is you do, then take a long, objective second look.
Sleep on It
Put some space between your first and second drafts — preferably a good night’s sleep. A new day gives you a truly fresh perspective on not only grammar and spelling, but content. It’s common and admirable for the ambitious to burn the midnight oil, but what seemed like a brilliant stroke of genius at 3 a.m. might present itself in a whole new light in the morning.
Don’t Rely on Spell Check
Without proper grammar, even the flashiest presentation won’t impress.
Spell check is a valuable crutch, but like any crutch, it can make you weak if you rely on it too often. While spell-check programs are excellent for catching egregious errors, grammatical slip-ups can and do slip through. Software is especially susceptible to missing homophones like “sea vs. see” and “reign vs. rein.” Use spell check, but rely on your intellect.
Hire a Proofreader
If you know that grammar isn’t your strong suit, be honest about your flaws and put a second pair of eyes on it. Ask your office’s wordsmith to give it a read and — if it’s really important — hire a proofreader on eLance or Craigslist or any other number of venues that pair editors with people who must have clean copy.
Take it Slow
Perhaps the most obvious yet overlooked trick to writing well is to leave yourself enough time. Whether you’re writing a business plan or chopping down a tree with a chainsaw, you’re much more prone to make mistakes if you’re rushing. Don’t leave it until the last moment, and plan your project in chunks to leave time for revisions, reworking, and the inevitable writer’s block.
Bad grammar is never OK in business. Unless you’re purposely trying to be folksy in your vernacular with a “say it ain’t so” or some similar casual parlance, the way you speak and the way you write speak volumes about who you are. If you can’t even get your ideas across without making mistakes, then why should anyone expect perfection when it’s time to put those ideas into practice?
Your presentation represents you and your company. Take the time to write it right.
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