Don’t Let a Misspelling Torpedo Your Presentation

"Don't let misspellings torpedo pressentations"Spelling makes headlines  this time of year as the annual National Spelling Bee takes place in the nation’s capital. A few years ago at the same time Mitt Romney’s staff goofed by misspelling “Amercia” in its iPhone app. That’s supposed to be “America” in case you wondered.

The twitter hashtag #Amercia exploded with thousands of tweets, as did “sneak-peek.” One tweeter made this astute observation, “If you’re applying for a job, and you misspell the name of the company you want to work for, you won’t get that job.” Even President Obama weighed in with a snarky post.

Then, on Sunday, another Romney stumble on his Facebook wall — hyphenating and misspelling sneak-peek (sneak peak) — went viral. Romney’s campaign responded that “mistakes happen” (spelled right).

Use Spell Checker

While people may have been LOL (laughing out loud), the incident reminded us that spelling still matters in business. You can get away with “r u there” in a text message. But misspelling the name of a potential client or a key word in a new business presentation can be fatal.

Spelling also needs to be correct in a written speech. A misspelling could easily cause the speaker to mispronounce a word. Very often the written speech is given to the press and/or the audience and is another solid reason to check and double check the spelling.

That’s why it is so important to use spell checker when you are writing a document or a PowerPoint presentation. There are free online services that will correct misspellings as you are writing.

A third-party site will also spell check your presentation if it needs to be translated into other languages.

Words With Other Meanings

Spell checker isn’t infallible. You’ve no doubt had the experience of seeing the message on your screen: “the spelling and grammar check are complete” and then discovering later that your misspelling is actually another legitimate word – spelled correctly. Ask a colleague to review your presentation with fresh ideas (oops, meant “eyes”).

Some writers read their copy from right to left which slows you down and forces you to look at every word.

It’s (not its) essential to review your document for sense and spelling. Sometimes we leave out a word as in “I urge to click on the link.” Do you see the missing word? Spell check didn’t catch that “you” was left out.

Sometimes we tweak the copy so many times that we forget to hit that final spell check. Constant rewriting enables misspellings to creep into our copy.

Common Misspelled Words

Following are just a dozen of the most misspelled words from The 100 Most Misspelled Words in English. They show up often in presentations. Have you misspelled any of these words?

  • Accommodate– not accomodate
  • Acceptable – not acceptible
  • A lot – not alot
  • Believe – not beleive
  • Changeable – not changable
  • Conscious – not concious
  • Indispensable – not  indispensible
  • Millennium – not millenium
  • Occurrence – not occurrance
  • Perseverance – not perseverence
  • Relevant – not relevent
  • Supersede – not supercede

Spelling is Not a Lost Art

At age 14, Snigdha Nandipati of San Diego, won the spelling bee competition when she correctly spelled the word “guetapens,” which means a trap or ambush. It pays to be a good speller. Her hours of study earned her a $30,000 cash prize, a $5,000 scholarship and a Nook Color tablet.

Correct spelling can pay off for you, too, in presentations that are full of great content that aren’t torpedoed by misspelled words.

If you want to keep up to date on current usage, you could subscribe to Grammar Girl for her tips that will arrive by email, or is it e-mail? Turns out that either version is acceptable.

Please share in the comment box below any “horror” stories you have about misspelled words.

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