Be the beautiful; follow the ugly

If you want to build and keep an audience, you can take a lesson from Mimi. My tall, classy great-grandmother wouldn’t step out the door of her house (even to the mailbox!) without earrings and lipstick. Her rationale? People are always watching and judging you when you are in public. If you are a communicator, your work is always in public. Here’s how to be beautiful.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder – sayings aside, it’s up to your audience to decide what’s good to them. Are they the types who want in-depth rationale and example, or is a quick listicle really going to catch their collective eyes?      

Use language correctly – Jokes about grammar nazis aside, people definitely judge you on your mechanics. Spelling ALWAYS counts. Usage and punctuation are important as well. Basically, if you can’t be bothered to look up if it is who or whom, why should I think you bothered to get the facts straight?

Pay attention to aesthetics – Sorry, but looks matter. Learn and use the principles of contrast and white space. If you use images, use good ones. 

Take the time to be elegant – This is going to vary depending on your audience, but a general rule of thumb is to be simple and short. Whenever possible. (As I was writing that sentence, I almost used the word “heuristic”. Bad choice – not simple. Edit for ease of reading. 

Pro-tip: Follow the ugly

When you go to professor school, you spend a whole lot of time following the ugly. Reading tough, twisted writing. Sometimes spending days nauseated in front of or inside a microfilm machine. It’s painful. But a lot of the best ideas come from the ugliest sources. Much like monks wear robes as a sign that they are concerned with higher things, many great thinkers don’t bother with concerns like being readable, as a sign that they are focused on the ideas. BUT, a lot of times the ideas are some of the best. So, as you do your own reading and research, take the time to look past the aesthetic and to struggle through the wording when the content is worthwhile. Most people don’t bother, so you just might end up a little bit smarter than everyone else. 



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