I had the recent fortune of visiting the local Farmers’ Market in Frehlisberg, Quebec, a quaint village in the countryside and was completely overwhelmed by the beauty of each farmer’s table. There were only seven or eight tables, but they were set up as if they were expecting the Queen to visit that day inclusive of live music and a pastry chef from Cowansville performing a cooking class for les enfants on how to make fresh bread. The care taken by each vendor to present their very best inspired this post.
Whether I am working with one of the Directors of my company who is designing our booth at an upcoming green industry tradeshow, a client who is developing a new marketing strategy to launch their latest product, or my son who has to write his one hundredth reading response for his homework, I am frequently not only playing the role of advisor, but also editor. When you are reading someone else’s work it can be easier to see the big picture and take a holistic perspective of the overall impact then when it is your own work; however, by implementing these six steps immediately AFTER you think you are finished, you can be your own best reviewer and ensure you are putting out your best work.
Step 1: Let your work rest for about 12 hours
Once you say to yourself, “OK, I’m done.” the review process can begin. You need to give your brain some space before you start editing to allow it to let go of the details, and truly reflect on the overall main goal of your work. If you start to revise too soon, you may not be able to shift your perspective enough to allow improvements to come to your mind.
If you present your work as it is, will the information and your overall goal be evident? If you want to test this with someone else at this point, you can show it to a trusted colleague and ask them their impression and know if you need to be clearer after about five minutes of their reaction.
Step 3: Take out any extraneous information that distracts from your overall goal
Going into too much detail of related facts or showing fancy charts and graphs that tangentially relate to your work can end up burying the lead.
Step 4: Review all of your work from top to bottom and add missing details, reformat using visual cues to organize your content and let it rest for 12 more hours
Organizing the content of your project is a major key to success, especially if there is a lot of information that you need someone to consume in a short period of time. Help your audience as much as possible by choosing the appropriate document type (document, spreadsheet, presentation, 3-D model, etc.); and format with headings, bullets, captions, bold and color typefaces, arrows, charts, whatever necessary to present the information in bite size chunks that someone will be able to instantly understand. If your project involves marketing to an end user, use video where possible.
Step 5: Review your work again, putting on all the bows, bells and whistles
Now that you have likely completely reworked your final product and let it rest for another day, put a bow on it. Provide a sample or example to illustrate even more clearly. Think of something that will WOW the audience and make them even more eager to see your work than they already were.
Step 6: Ask yourself, “Does this work adequately represent my best work and is it worthy of my reputation?”
You know you are done with your ‘draft’ when you review your work from top to bottom three times without making any changes or corrections and you feel super excited about what you have created. At this point, your work is ready for presentation and you are fully prepared to articulate your goals, and explain your value proposition with anyone whom you share your masterpiece, which by the way is an important byproduct of the reviewing process.
And if at the end of the day, my employees, my clients, and my children begin to ask themselves in all they do, “Is this the product I want my reputation to represent?” then I have done my job.