Today, I’m going to show you one of the easiest and fastest ways to write clearly and concisely… make your writing stronger… and catch embarrassing typos.
And if you’re not doing it religiously, I suggest you apply it to everything you write from this day forward.
I’m referring to reading your copy out loud.
Now, you may think you’ve heard it all when it comes to this idea, but stick with me, and I’ll give you some tips and solutions you’re probably not using.
Benefits of Reading Your Copy Out Loud
Reading your copy out loud serves many different functions for writing clearly and concisely. It will allow you to:
1. Quickly find missing words
One of the biggest mistakes I make when typing up a first draft of something is thinking of a word in my mind but not typing it. For example, I might type the sentence “I will talk about the additional benefits in just second.” In my mind, I say the letter “a” that goes before “second,” but I don’t type it. Reading what you write out loud quickly catches these pesky mistakes.
2. Find homophones that might fly under the radar
If you accidentally type “know” instead of “no” or “your” instead of “you’re,” reading each word out loud should make it easy to identify typos the spell checker wouldn’t catch. You might also notice tricky grammatical errors that can fly under the radar.
3. Know if your transitions work seamlessly
Good copy must flow effortlessly from one thought to the other. If your transitions are bumpy, you should be able to catch them when reading aloud.
4. Have a warning system if what you’re typing doesn’t make sense
We’ve all done it. Typed a paragraph up that makes absolutely no sense to anyone except you. Forcing yourself to read something out loud will instantly tell you whether it isn’t clear.
5. Know if your sentence structure and grammar are sound
If your sentences run on too long or if you write something that is grammatically challenged, you should be able to discover it here.
6. Be able to judge whether you’re striking the right tone with your copy
Are you too forceful? Not friendly enough? Condescending even? Reading what you write out loud will provide you with a good barometer of the tone you’re striking with your copy.
7. Become good at reading aloud
You could be reading to a group of kids, or a newspaper article to a peer or client, but there are times in life when it’s handy to have mastered this skill.
How Reading Out Loud Can Help Prevent Errors
I’ll admit, sometimes I get a little lazy and I don’t read the parts of my copy out loud that I think I have down pat.
I never cease to be amazed when I get some copy back from my “copy buddy” and find that in an essay I’ve read 10 or 12 times silently to myself, I’ve left out a word. Usually, it’s a small word, but it still makes for a bumpy ride when reading.
One little typo or miscue can create the wrong impression with a client, especially if you’re new to them and haven’t yet had an opportunity to prove yourself. Use these seven tips below as you read your copy out loud and you’ll be able to all but eliminate mistakes in your copy.
1. Listen to yourself
Record yourself reading your copy using a smartphone app, tape machine, or a software program that converts your voice to MP3. This will give you an excellent take on the flow and clarity of your copy.
2. Have somebody else read your copy to you
If someone is available, ask them to read your copy out loud. This gives you a different perspective on whether it sounds good to someone other than you.
3. Read every word
Take the time and focus on every word on the page.
4. Stick with the format that works best for you
I prefer reading it from the printed page. But you may like reading from your computer screen. Do what’s most comfortable.
5. Don’t read too fast
Relax and read at a comfortable pace. Reading too fast heightens the chance of you missing something.
6. Follow along with your finger if it helps
Use your finger to help you focus on the words you’re reading — or use a piece of paper to cover up the lines you haven’t read yet.
7. Have your voice-to-text software read what you type back to you
This isn’t a substitute for actually reading it yourself, but it’s a fun way to check your copy for errors and areas that need improvement. I use Dragon speech recognition software by Nuance. If I say the words, “Read screen out loud,” it reads the text on the screen back to me.