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Tell Your Own Story or When In Doubt, Leave It Out!

Are you sure aren't plagairizing?

Are you sure you aren’t plagiarizing?

Tell Your Own Story or When In Doubt, Leave It Out

The recent Melania Trump alleged plagiarizing of Michelle Obama’s speech uproar prompted me to write about three points we all need to take seriously. There is no political intent or bias here.

1.    Tell your own story.
2.    When in doubt, leave it out.
3.    Get a proofreader/editor. Use the proofreader. Listen to the proofreader.

1.    Tell your own story. You’ve got a million stories in your life. Everyday you have experiences that can be turned into universal truth stories. The National Speakers Association cautions against using other people’s stories. Yet, twice in one week I heard two NSA speakers use the same story and tell it as if it had happened to them. Since the story was unique and somewhat bizarre, it would be quite a coincidence for both speakers to own this story. I didn’t know who was the rightful owner until I got the latest edition of the NSA magazine. It attributed the story to a third speaker. Obviously, the two people I heard had heard the original storyteller and figured it couldn’t hurt to use the story in front of a different audience. It did hurt. It hurt their credibility.

2.    If you’re not sure of a source, or if your idea is original, check it out and/or leave it out. We’re blessed or cursed with thousands of words to choose from. We may assume that our thoughts are original. Or, we may think that there are few original thoughts so why bother with accuracy? With all the quotes on Facebook and other social media being shared and shared again, it’s easy to recycle a quote as your own. Always give attribution. Always ask for permission to share someone’s article, process, system or words. A pain in the neck? Yes. But, so is going to prison.

3.    Use an editor and proofreader. I reread every item I send out numerous times. I press “send.” Then, magically, errors appear. A proofreader can catch these errors. An editor can help with the order of things, can delete phrases and thoughts that don’t work and add fresh insight. Just recently, I used the services of Julie Lichtman, Freedom Professional Services. She caught my errors and made suggestions that I never would have thought of.  Full disclosure: Julie is my daughter. Full disclosure: one of the smartest and best writers I know.

Poor Melania. In my opinion, she was a pawn here. The brouhaha surrounding her speech will calm down. Wasn’t VP Joe Biden accused of plagiarism a while back? For people who are using speech writers, hound them about the originality of their thoughts, words and phrases. For those of us who are writing our own speeches, don’t be lazy. There may be a reason your words sound so clever. They may be someone else’s!

And, contact Julie. J.lichtman@frederick.com. She’s an original. As I always say, “To be or not to be (honest)? That’s the question.”

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