THE ART OF ERROR-FREE COMMUNICATION
Author, speaker, and entrepreneur K.D. Sullivan is passionate about words. "Words can be descriptive and precise," says Sullivan. She writes in A Cure for the Common Word,
"It can be fun discovering and using just the right word to say so
precisely/exactly/perfectly/ideally/eloquently what we want to
So what is her goal in writing, editing, or proofreading? Not perfection. Instead, error-free communication. "I never use the word perfect," says Sullivan. "In the field of writing, editing, and proofreading there are still several areas open for interpretation. There are some absolutes that don't change, but there are others that are fluid and do change over time." So, in a culture where absolutes and fluidity seem to live side-by-side, how do you produce error-free communication? First and foremost Sullivan says, "Don't assume. Don't assume you know the definition of a word, don't assume your target market understands what you are talking about, and don't assume that someone else has verified what you're looking at."
Sullivan also suggests using an editorial style sheet, a document that identifies a company or organization's writing conventions, for consistency and clarity when writing,
editing, or proofing communication materials. An editorial style sheet might include definition choices for words that may have more
than one meaning, style and formatting preferences, and grammar guidelines. For example, whether or not a word should be hyphenated, when a number should be spelled out, and what to do with prepositions. If an editorial style sheet is a new idea for you, Sullivan has written a couple of job aids to help get you started:
The final step in producing error-free communication is proofread! Proofread your own work; have someone else proofread your work. And be a reader! "The more you read, the more you learn how other people present their ideas. You learn what you do and don't like; what you find effective and ineffective," Sullivan says.
Whether you are proofreading your own work or someone else's work, Sullivan recommends proofreading in stages. First, read the entire document through to understand the flow of the piece and identify any spelling and punctuation problems. During this first stage highlight anything you need to look up or do further research on and go back to it later, rather than stopping during your first read through. Next, look separately at each document element. Document elements could be headers, the table of contents, sections in large type or capitals, or anything not automatically generated. "Although it sounds like it takes a lot more time, it takes very little additional time because when you are doing the first read through you're not concentrating on just one element," Sullivan says. "When you are focused on one element it's amazing what you see that you don't see when you are trying to do everything at once."
If you are proofreading someone else's material and need to ask for clarification, make your questions "polite, precise, and concise," says Sullivan. "Make it easy for them to give a direct answer." Also, if you find that you are making the same change more than twice, stop and clarify. Don't assume. Refer back to your company or organization's style sheet. Ask for clarification.
Sullivan has written 40 job aids for proofreading, editing, and writing. A complete listing of available job aids is on her Web site under "Word Help." To download a few of her most popular aids, click on these links:
In addition to her passion for and expertise in producing error-free communication, Sullivan loves business. Business is "different all the time," she says. "I'm a puzzle solver, so I like figuring things out and finding solutions to things. That's fun for me." Sullivan recently sold the company she founded over 20 years ago, a highly successful proofreading and editorial agency, to pursue new challenges and do more small-business consulting. For more than 10 years, Sullivan has volunteered with SCORE, a non-profit organization offering free business counseling and low-cost business training. She has also shared her expertise on entrepreneurial business in print media, on television, and on radio. Sullivan offers the following tips for starting and growing a business:
- Create a plan.
- Ask for help. Don't feel like you need to do it all on your own.
- Be careful not to get stuck in the planning phase. Do your research, make a plan, and then move on.
- Pay attention to the numbers. "Numbers are not as exciting as ideas, but they do give you the reality you need in whatever you're doing," says Sullivan. "Knowing what your cash flow is and what your financials are is really key."
- Don't get stopped. Sullivan says, "If you come up against a wall, go over it, around it, blast through it, or pick a different path that makes more sense."
- Be curious about everything. "Curiosity leads you to information, and information helps you make decisions in what you do. Entrepreneurs are risk takers, but the good ones are informed risk takers. They have done their homework," says Sullivan.
Sullivan is currently developing Business Resource Network - an all-in-one location where through rankings,reviews, and recommendations, businesspeople can narrow their search for business resources and choose the ones just right for them.
She is the author of Go Ahead ... Proof It!, A Cure for the Common Word, and of the upcoming In the Driver's Seat: A Roadmap for Independent Professionals. She is coauthor of The Art of Styling Sentences, 4th Edition, The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Spanish for Health Care Professionals, The Gremlins of Grammar, and The McGraw-Hill Desk Reference for Writers, Editors, and Proofreaders book and CD.
To learn more visit K.D. Sullivan's Web site.
In a press release dated July 24, 2009, Vistage International included survey statistics and quotes from member CEO's about healthcare cost concerns and the direction of the economy. Leading the release is TTE's CEO Terry Thompson's comment about how potential healthcare cost increases might affect her business. "As a business owner, I'm afraid I won't be able to afford either providing healthcare for my employees or paying the penalty the government imposes on businesses that don't provide healthcare for their employees," she says.
Thompson was one of 2,098 CEOs who participated in the Vistage Confidence Index survey, and according to the press release, she is not alone in her sentiments. The press release also indicates that while healthcare costs are a significant concern, confidence in the economy is improving. To read the entire press release, including Confidence Index Statistics, click on the link below.
CEO Terry Thompson and Sales/Marketing Manager Sven Markert visited a New Jersey-based client this month. Thompson also attended the eWomen Network International Conference and Business Expo in Dallas, Texas and visited TTE clients in the Dallas, Texas area. Thompson plans to continue visiting clients throughout the rest of the year.
The TTE Newsletter is going to a bi-monthly format. The next newsletter will be September/October.
HAVE YOU WRITTEN YOUR LETTERS OF LOVE YET?Terry Thompson, CEO, TTE Transcripts Worldwide
I love when my family gathers for holidays, celebrations, and weekend get-togethers. Besides doing a lot of eating, my parents always talk about the "days of old" when they were kids - what they did for fun, what jobs they had growing up, and what my grandparents were like when my parents were my age. All of my grandparents died before I was 20, so I cherish any family stories my parents tell me. Now that my Mom is turning 79, and my Dad has just turned 81, I worry about being able to pass those stories down to my children and grandchildren.
About three months ago, my mom decided she wanted to start writing down the stories we loved hearing, her thoughts, and her memories - the days of her childhood, living during World War II, the Cold War, what she was doing when JFK was assassinated, the dairy products delivered to her parent's home, and being the last family on the block to get a black and white T.V. She used a notepad to journal, but didn't always have it with her when she needed it. Many times she'd remember a story, recall an event, or reflect on a memory at the grocery store, in line at the bank, or while driving her car. By the time she got back home, she couldn't remember what she had wanted to write down.
I suggested she use TTE's dictation system to record her "letters of love" and create a Legacy Journal that can be passed down from generation to generation. Now instead of a pen and paper, she picks up her cell phone. She doesn't have to rummage through her purse to find paper or pen or wait until she gets home to write in a journal. TTE archives her audio recordings for the time when she is ready to put her Legacy Journal into a CD or manuscript format.
If you want to pass on the story of your generation, preserve the memories of times past, and create a Legacy Journal with "letters of love," call TTE today at 847-592-6211.
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