How to Write a Strong Introduction
Start the clock! I only have about 10 seconds to convince you this page is worth reading. That’s just the nature of writing anything nowadays, and with good reason!
Readers are busy. They want to find answers, and it’s our job as content developers to convince them that we're not wasting their time! One of the keys to achieving this is having an effective introduction, or in journo-speak, a solid lede. But you already knew that—that’s why you’re here.
We’re here because the decades of combined content production experience between the members of Team Morey have taught us a few things about crafting introductions, which I’m going to share with you below.
Stop the clock. How’d I do? Hopefully you’re still here to answer that. If so, it’s likely because I incorporated a number of key principles that combine to create a strong introduction.
Here are five of these we swear by:
1. Keep it short.
As I mentioned, website visitors will only give you a few seconds of their time to prove to them that the page has the information they’re looking for. Don’t waste that on lengthy introductions or anecdotes—there’s a strong chance they’ll end up skimming over it anyway to pick out what they’re looking for.
For instance, the intro to this article is fewer than 120 words and each sentence has a deliberate point. The next four principles outline what the most important points should be.
2. Get their attention.
I know, I know. You're tired of hearing this, but the reason you do so often is because it’s true! Piquing your reader’s interest with something they’re not expecting or a surprising statistic right out of the gate can make the difference between them sticking around to see where it goes or clicking out.
In this example, I elected to use a statistic demonstrating how little time a content developer has to reach a reader as a means to heighten the urgency of the piece.
3. Tell your reader about themselves—not you!
Part of convincing your reader that you have the information they’re looking for is persuading them that you even understand their needs. It’s difficult to do that if you don’t mention them in your opening paragraph! Take it line by line and ask yourself, “Who is this sentence about?” If they’re all about you, then you will want to revisit this.
4. Answer the question, "Why are they reading this?" aka "Why should they care?"
Convincing your audience that you understand what they’re experiencing is an important step to crafting an effective introduction. The next, though, is communicating how what you’re writing is relevant to that issue.
Doing so is a good opportunity to remind yourself why this is a valid piece of content, to begin with. If you’re unable to explain your prospect’s problem and connect it to what you’re writing about and how you can solve it, then you might need to reevaluate your value proposition or the topic. Always remember: Great content provides value!
5. Answer the question, “What can they expect from reading this?”
Even if you're able to convey that you understand the problem they're facing and you can help, you still need to explain to readers what they are going to get out of continuing further into your post. That can be as simple as a brief sentence outlining what's to come. Consider it a mini-roadmap.
The intro to this article, for example, indicates clearly that I’m going to give you some tips for writing an effective introduction.
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