Grumpy Old Man

‘The first rule for a good style is to have something to say; in fact, this in itself is almost enough.’

This is a quote by the 19th century philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer.

As a former philosophy student, I can’t help but share such a snippet of wisdom with you every now and then.

Schopenhauer was popular among my fellow students.

This was partly due to his provocative, pessimistic view of life. He was a grumpy old man. Selections of his work have been compiled in Dutch as De wereld een hel (The world a hell) and Er is geen vrouw die deugt (There are no good women).

Schopenhauer was also popular because his work is so easy to read. He has an elegant, attractive, literary style.

But according to him, the basis of a good style is that you have something to say.

He is right.

And it also applies to communication about your work.

Sometimes I see people worrying about form early on. Sentence length, passive sentences, spelling. Fonts, colors, and alignment on slides.

All important.

But not the essence.

Make sure that first, you know what you want to say. What your message is. And pay most attention to that.

Only then, worry about form.