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November 4, 2009

Twitter was a well-needed kick in the pants to improve my grammar

Business communication is tricky.

My attention to detail and penchant for “resource gathering” is liable to turn any power point slide into a 30 page document. And, for me, email is a catch22 nightmare.

I do prefer email as I am really not a “phone person”. Yet, as someone who is not instinctively attuned to grammar and spelling (no shock to any of our blog readers) AND who has a direct tone, each email is fraught with opportunity for error and misunderstanding.

I have long relied on spell check and a two-prong email writing technique I developed a couple years ago where I write the content of the email, and then I go back and add in the conversation (ex. I hope you are well; it was great to see you) to keep me out of trouble.

As an avid reader and book lover however, I have great respect for skilled writers and clever, well-articulated communication.

I have always felt insecure and uncomfortable about my lack of grammatical and spelling prowess but it has really taken Twitter to motivate me to do something about it. (It took me a while to get on Twitter in the first place, but I'm here!)

Now I find this somewhat ironic since most tweets use “twitter shorthand” and may be incomprehensible to someone who is not yet familiar with the symbols and formulas used.

However, at the Global Innovation Conference in Philadelphia a few weeks ago, Peter Shankman said that the average attention span is 2.9 seconds (or about the amount of time that it takes to read a tweet). This, he said, coupled with the amount of mobile communication we engage in, really underscores the importance of being a good writer.

He is right, of course. And for the first time it really sunk in for me. I don’t email blog posts directly to the blog from my Blackberry because I’m sure there are too many errors. I do need to check over tweets a couple times before I send them out.

And while I probably wouldn’t hold small errors against another writer (in truth I probably wouldn’t even recognize them), there are too many smart people out there that would and do hold these faux pas against me.

So, recognizing that I am charged with representing my brand AND that I don’t want to be limited in using mobile applications and communication, I have turned a new leaf and have begun a concerted effort to improve my grammar (those damn commas) and spelling (those damn vowels).

Any suggestions of resources you may have would be greatly appreciated!

So far I am listening to Grammar Girl podcasts and reading Eats, Shoots, & Leaves. For those in my boat, both resources are highly recommended!


Anonymous said...

Grammar girl just published a daily devotional dedicated to grammar. I am finding it rather helpful.

"heymarci" said...

Connie Hale's amazing blog, Sin and Syntax.

Btw, she also offers a kick-ass workshop...Possibly a good idea for an IGC event. I took it two year's ago at a journalism conference and was totally wowed (and entertained). It changed the way I write. And the way I think about writing.

Here's a post I worked on with Connie for my Yahoo! blog: "5 Tricks for Wicked Good Writing."