Like it or not, smart punctuation matters.
I’m sure we’ve all seen the example of how commas can KILL:
(Let’s eat, Grandma vs. Let’s eat grandma = BIG difference.)
I know this is nerdy, but it’s important.
So today I’m shedding light on the ONE sneaky punctuation mark that could be killing your credibility (without you even realizing it):
The exclamation point.
I KNOW. I know. It’s fun. And energetic! And I’m not too cool to admit: I’m guilty of occasional, intentional exclamationpointitis.
(What can I say? Some things just call for extra oomph!)
But it’s time to take it down a notch. There’s no way around it:
Constant, excessive use of exclamation points makes it harder for people to take you seriously. (Tweet that!)
Think about it! It’s pretty distracting when every sentence ends with an exclamation point! In your head I probably sound like a teenager on a sugar high! Or an infomercial spokesperson yelling at you through the TV! It’s just not natural! (And may even make you question my credibility!)
See what I mean?
It’s just a little uncomfortable. And when potential dream clients come into your space, you want them to feel comfortable.
So what’s the alternative?
The way I see it, there are two painless treatments for exclamationpointitis:
Option 1. Practice moderation.
I’m not a total abolitionist. I love a good, thoughtfully used exclamation point as much as the next guy.
And I do NOT want to make you feel like you need turn down your enthusiasm. (I think that’s the root of the problem, actually – equating enthusiasm with exclamation points.)
Like with all good things – chocolate chip cookies, exercise, and Netflix…it’s about moderation. To borrow the words of Samuel Johnson:
Exclamation points, like gold and diamonds, owe their value to scarcity.
(His original quote is actually about praise…which is a rather interesting perspective.)
Option 2. Up your (communication) style game.
Punctuation marks are like accessories for your wordrobe. Choose them wisely. (Tweet that!)
Try other ways to help folks hear you before they hire you by making use of bold, italics, parentheses, as-you’d-say-it spellings, and such.
[FUN FACT: I created The Conversational Copy Cheat Sheet in 2013 for exactly this reason. It’s full of quick ‘n’ easy tips to write copy that sounds like YOU, and it’s totally free. If you haven’t already, click here to get your copy.]
Bottom line(s): Your enthusiasm is contagious. BEAUTIFUL. And a huge part of what your dream clients want and need to see from you.
But if you’re exclaiming all over the place when you’re not genuinely surprised, in anger, or in pain, you could be off the mark.
Do you suffer from exclamationpointitis – or know “a friend” who does?
Tell me about it in the comments so I can cheer you on (with genuine yet moderately punctuated enthusiasm).
We’re in this together! (<< See what I did there? Moderation.)
To punctuating with confidence,