They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression. It's a lesson that all too often gets learned the hard way.
A recent example may prove useful. After winning a $354,000 decision for his client, attorney Brian Puricelli petitioned the court to recover his fees. Magistrate Judge Jacob Hart agreed, but reduced the amount due him by $30,000. The reason? Mr. Puricelli's petition was rife with errors and misspellings, so much so that Judge Hart declared it disrespectful to the court. He slashed in half the portion of Mr. Puricelli's fees devoted to writing.
Words matter. The ability to write with clarity is perhaps the only skill that professionals across the board must possess to succeed. Electronic business is here to stay, and, like it or not, that means each of us is now a professional writer. Words on the page are often the only evidence of the writer's character and intelligence; they must convey the full weight of the author's personality. Clumsy writing chips away at the reader's trust.
Large organizations can afford a dedicated editorial staff—something that's often out of reach for smaller ones, the employees of which are forced to police their own work. Many people think that the ability to write well is something you are born with or not. The fact is that people write badly for many different reasons, most of which have nothing to do with innate talent. Effective writing—writing that succinctly states the writer's case and spurs the reader to action—is a learnable skill. Patience, practice and a dedication to clear thinking are much of what's required. But there are a few other things you can do to see an immediate improvement.
Write clearly instead of impressively.