Archive: October 6th, 2007

It’s All in the Way You Look at It

Appearance isn’t quite everything.Our modern world may appear to be quite superficial, at a glance. First impressions are key. The old saw, “You only have one chance to make a first impression,” is just as true as it ever was. There are entire industries based on helping people figure out what to wear, how to present themselves. Of course, nobody needs to be told that there are plenty of people out there who are all about the impression they make–People who drive status-automobiles, own huge houses, dress to the nines, all that.

Ultimately, though, presentation–whether it’s showy, professional, casual, fun, serious–is just the beginning. A first impression can’t hide the true essence forever. Have you ever seen an incredibly attractive person you couldn’t wait to meet, but who, after a 5 minute conversation, you couldn’t wait to leave? Good looks can only get you so far.

Style and Substance need to go hand in hand to be truly impressive. A website can have all the classy, elegant style it needs to make a fabulous impression upon first click, but if the author can’t string two complete sentences together without misspellings and grammatical errors, the damage to the “impression” is going to be irreparable. Is it vital that every word you write be perfect, every punctuation mark exactly placed, every grammatical rule followed? Well, no, not exactly. We all
use prepositions at the end of sentences from time to time (starting a sentence with “and” is one of my personal favorite rules to ignore), but you can generally tell the difference between someone who knows what they’re doing and makes an occasional error and someone who doesn’t have a clue.

The important thing is to be able to back up your first impression. If you want to come across as smart and authoritative in whatever field you’re in, you need to show that you have the goods. To show that you have not just the expertise needed to make money, train a dog, cook a meal, but that you can present those ideas in such a way that your readers will believe you. It’s a paradoxical truth that, to be taken seriously, you need to show that you’re serious. You may have all the knowledge in the world, but if you sound like an uneducated hick, who’s ever going to believe you? One misspelling isn’t necessarily going to ruin an entire sales pitch, wouldn’t your readers be more likely to believe someone who sounds like they know what they’re doing, rather than someone who sounds like they just fell off the turnip truck?

I know I would.