The act of plagiarizing is risky business and hurts everyone…especially you. It’s best to avoid this behavior at all costs even if it occurs unintentionally. Think of it this way–it’s analogous to stealing from someone. Is it really worth exposing yourself or your organization to potential legal ramifications as well as damaging your reputation? I think we know the answer.
And yet as we know this recently occurred in a big way and it was the topic on everyone’s lips, irrespective of the opinions that were voiced. (If someone’s going to talk about me, I certainly don’t want it to be under these conditions.) So how do we avoid putting ourselves in this position you ask? Some guidelines to consider are:
1. Put the necessary time into developing your message; avoid writing your speech under duress when there’s a time crunch. I always advise my clients to start early and not end up procrastinating.
2. Gather your thoughts before you put anything on paper. As you reflect, try recording your ideas and then on playback decide what sounds right vs. what can be discarded.
3. If you read or hear anything that resonates with you, keep a log or spreadsheet of who said it, when it was said and where you heard or read it.
4. Draft an outline of the main speaking points you want to express as well as any subordinate points you feel will back up your main points. If some of this includes the words of others, this is the time to refer back to your log or spreadsheet (as mentioned in #3) and be certain to credit the source. This keeps everything above board.
5. If you’re communicating in writing, then be sure to use appropriate citations where warranted. If you’re speaking, then you can say something to the effect of “It was Albert Einstein who said….” This would be constitute the verbal citation version.
6. If you’ve enlisted the help of a consultant or speech writer, be certain that you hold that individual to the very same standards I’ve just listed (#5), since that person is crafting your message and also has accountability.
By the way, one of the ways I assist my clients is both writing and/or editing their message. Please let me know how I may help you sound your best vs. being a copy of anyone else!