First Impressions

It only takes 3 seconds to make a first impression. When you are having a face to face conversation, those 3 seconds are linked to your posture, facial expressions or appearance as you walk into a room. Were you smiling? Did you shake the person’s hand? When sending a written message, those 3 seconds are harder to identify.

Did the first impression happen when the person opened the note? Was the font too small and difficult to read? This can happen if a font size is less than 12 point. Was the font size large or written in bold or all capital letters? The reader could get the feeling the writer was yelling. Was the font difficult to read, too many curls and squiggles.

Did the first impression happen as the person started to read the note or text? Did the message contain misspelled words? Punctuation errors? Grammar errors? If you use the default setting, a red squiggle will appear under any misspelled word. This same setting will show grammar errors with a green squiggle. If the auto-correct feature is on, the computer corrects commonly misspelled words. Although this is a great feature, the computer may misinterpret what you want to say. The reader then gets an unintended message.

As a supervisor or member of the C-Suite do you want your employees to submit reports with spelling, grammar or punctuation errors? I don’t think so. So why is it OK for you to have those errors in your written communication? It is very easy to ensure the messages you send make great first impressions. All you have to do is read what you write before you send it. A few seconds can mean the difference between a great first impression and a questionable impression.

As I read emails, texts, or word documents, it is often clear that the writer didn’t take a few extra seconds to read what he/she wrote before sending it. The writer probably just wrote and clicked ‘send.’ By reading what you write prior to clicking ‘send,’ you will catch most spelling and grammar errors and typos. Even if you don’t find any errors, by re-reading  the document you may improve the tone or clarity of your message. When reading out-loud vs. silently, it avoids saying/reading what you think you wrote rather than what you actually wrote. Why? Because when reading out-loud, we tend to emphasize words or add tone to the text. So in addition to being another tool in the editing process, it helps ensure the intended message of your document is the message the reader receives.