for a strong, fast pick-me-up
If your write under time pressure – chances are that you will make mistakes.
I encourage you to:
1. Learn from mistakes so you don’t make them again
2. Go back and tidy up those mistakes, if possible
3. Create a list of common word mistakes in your industry and share it so others don’t make the same mistake.
I have great respect for sports writers and commentators working under the intense pressure of reporting on a big event.
I also like to help writers improve their work.
Just as sports teams try to learn from their mistakes – business writers should also:
1. Accept that there will be mistakes – especially under pressure
2. Learn to be aware of any mistakes and try to fix them
My favourite sport to read about is Rugby – union AND league.
One mistake I saw in last night’s Bledisloe Cup coverage was the misuse of CHAGRIN:
A rugby writer (and I’ll try to keep this general and anonymous) wrote about Quade Copper being replaced – “much to the chagrin of the Eden Park crowd…all too happy to rub it in.”
Chagrin means the opposite of happy. It means being annoyed or irritated or distressed.
Personally, I think the GRIN part of chaGRIN can cause writers to visualise someone being happy and grinning. That’s my theory anyway.
So, I encourage you (and this is for ALL writing, not just sports coverage) if you make a mistake:
1. Learn from it and try not to make it next time
2. Fix it up. We all make mistakes. I make lots of mistakes (much to my chagrin) but i try to go back and fix them up.
But what if you don’t know that you’ve made a mistake?
I encourage organisations (including news organisations) to:
1. have the courage to let people know of mistakes. Try to do it respectfully and privately. Sometimes people are afraid to correct “senior” people. It’s important that organisations develop a healthy “culture of correction”
2. create a list of commonly misused expressions and to share it so ALL people are aware of expressions that need to be used corrected.
This week I heard expression that were “close and almost correct” yet comically wrong:
nasal-gazing – should be navel-gazing
Plenty of wiggle room – should be wriggle room
(There’s actually a debate about whether the expression should be wriggle room or wiggle room! Wriggle room comes on as the most accepted expression – yet some people prefer to use wiggle room.)
Another mistake I read in print in rugby coverage was diffusing a bomb when the expression should be defusing a bomb.
Now, I reckon much to the chagrin (above) is a “less obvious mistake”.
Still, I hope the writer will:
1. Be aware of the mistake
2. Not make it again
3. Go back and fix up the mistake
I encourage you to do the same with your writing and to help colleagues who use the wrong words. If you see a typo or incorrect word usage in this post, please let me know and I’ll fix it.
If you are a business presenter OR sports person or sports official or commentator/writer and you’d like to improve your presenting or writing – I’d love to help. If you are a Rugby fan, we will get on famously. If you are from a different sport and not a Rugby fan – I will do my best to use sporting examples YOU can enjoy and relate to.
In my journalism career, the most impressive sportspeople/ sports spokespeople I ever worked with were from Rugby Union and swimming and some tennis stars. Very professional communicators!
Some organisations realize their people need to improve their communication skills – and I’ve been privileged to have worked with and learned from many great sports people. One thing I am impressed by is their willingness to practise and put in the work/preparation and to take media appearances/presentations seriously.