October 5, 2017
Every communication you post must be professional and be your best effort. Every time.
I was reminded of that when I downloaded Brian
Tracy’s ebook The 6-Figure Speaker. It was not
professional and I assume not representative of his
best effort. For those of you unaware of Tracy, he
is an international speaker and best-selling author.
His Facebook page has 1.8 million likes, which
include some folks for whom I have great respect
and call my friends.
The ebook was a free download—free for the price
of obtaining my email so he could send follow-up
pitches. I unsubscribed after the first email.
Why? On Page 8 of Tracy’s ebook, he writes “10
percent.” On Page 11, he refers to it as “ten percent.”
OK, so that’s a bit picky. But it is only one example.
And, when I noticed he was equally sloppy with facts a mere 10 pages into a 91-page book, I put it down never to be opened again.
On Page 5, under About the Author, we find this:
“Brian Tracy has consulted for more than 1,000 companies and addressed more than 5,000,000 people in 5,000 talks and seminars throughout the US, Canada and 69 other countries worldwide.” (Emphasis added.)
A mere five pages later, we find this:
“Over the years, I have delivered more than 5,000 presentations and spoken personally to more than 5,000,000 people in fifty-seven countries.” (Emphasis added.)
Is it 57 countries, or 71? Or did he speak to 14 fewer countries in the time it took me to get from Page 5 to Page 10? Quite the feat.
Consistency does matter. It builds trust with the reader. I’m not sure at this point that I can believe anything he’s telling me. His brand is tarnished after only 11 pages. All for lack of consistency. He’s selling professional how-to communications in an unprofessional vehicle.
Don’t let that happen to you.
We’ll come back to competing facts in a moment. But let’s start with consistency in language. There is nothing wrong with using either 10 percent, or 10%, or ten percent. There is nothing wrong with using the Oxford—or serial—comma or not using it. The choice is yours as an author. But there is something wrong with mixing them up within five pages. If Tracy has a style guide, he is not using it. A style guide provides you with that consistency.
The Consistent Voice Communications Style Guide has entries on numbers, names, titles, addresses, use of logo, and much more. It is constantly updated as new problem areas are identified. (I just added “ebook” as I was writing this because a quick Google check found it is also widely written as “e-book” and “eBook.”) You can download a copy of the CVC Style Guide, updated as of June 2017, and freely use it to start building your own. (Free for a free subscription to my newsletter, which you can unsubscribe from at any time.)
That will take care of much of your writing inconsistencies. It also will—I believe—solve some of the competing facts because as you train your mind to find inconsistencies in language, inconsistencies in facts will become more noticeable too. But there are a couple of other steps to take to help to avoid that trap as well.
Always print out your manuscript and read it aloud. There are several reasons for doing that, but for the purpose of this blog, reading it aloud will help you catch inconsistencies. Then follow the advice of my college photojournalism instructor, John Grzywacz-Gray. Always have one other set of eyes look it over, someone you trust to take a critical look. For a book, I would hire a professional. But for any communication, do not trust yourself to catch your own mistakes. You’ve read over them so many times you can no longer see them.
Above all, be consistent and professional in your communications. Always. Your brand depends on it.
Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications and author of Write It, Speak It: Writing a Speech They’ll APPLAUD! Reach him at Tom@YourConsistentVoice.com.