FREE CHOCOLATE! Now that I have your attention, you’re probably intrigued enough to see this sentence through to the end (even though I’ve deceived you). Fortunately, your introductions don’t have to resort to trickery to captivate your readers. An engaging, thoughtful opening is all you really need for a killer start to any article. With that in mind, here are five ways to get your next piece off to a flying start!
Open With a Quiz
Who doesn’t love a quick quiz? It engages your brain and connects you with the subject at hand in a fun and unconventional way. As long as you can relate it to the overall theme of your article, a mini quiz can lure readers into your piece and ensure they stay hooked. An example would be something like the following:
Which of the following do you agree with?
A) I enjoy being around children
B) I’m financially stable
C) I’m ready to put someone else first
D) I have a good support system
If you answered yes to all four, that’s fantastic! However, you’re still not completely ready for parenthood. No one is ever 100% ready. It’s a continual learning process, but there are a few ways to better prepare yourself—and your home—for your bundle of joy.
Before readers have even scratched the surface of your article, they will already be engaged with the topic, and this will whet their appetite to read on for further details, statistics, and tips that relate to your opening info. Just be sure to deliver the goods in the following paragraphs!
Debunk Common Knowledge
It’s not often we come across info that blows our long-held beliefs out of the water, so when we do we’re almost bound to sit up and take notice.
Think occasional fast food is bad for you? It’s actually no worse than your average intake of home cooked ‘meat and veg’ meals.
Do your research and you can hit readers hard with a startling statistic that goes against the grain and grabs their attention. A revelation like this will not only surprise readers, but also it may change their outlook and personal habits—making your article the go-to place for guidance on how to make these changes. Why would readers look elsewhere when they heard it from you first?
Make ‘Em Laugh
Humour shows personality and this can be your saving grace, particularly if you’re working with a less-than-interesting topic. A funny opening should relate to the overall theme of your article in some way and this could manifest itself in a response to a well-known quote or with the use of appropriate metaphor and analogy.
My personal favourite is to paint a scenario I know many readers will be able to relate to, such as…
There’s never a good time for your car to break down—least of all on a busy weekday morning filled with errands and a school run. But before you inadvertently traumatize your toddler with language normally reserved for Quentin Tarantino films, it may be wise to arm yourself with a few of these breakdown survival tips.
Don’t be afraid to let loose every once in a while, even with the more formal and technical topics out there.
Hold Back on Intriguing Info
Teasing and tantalising the reader can be a sneaky way to start your article, but it can certainly draw people in (think of it as the literary equivalent of dangling a carrot on a stick). The idea is to hint at a key piece of information and withhold this till later in your article so readers are compelled to read on. For example…
You may feel like you’ve tried every trick in the book to attract customers to your site, but there is a viral marketing technique that has been trending in recent weeks—partly because it’s fun, but mainly because it has the potential to triple your web traffic.
Just make sure you have the facts to back up your enticing claims!
Less Is So Much More
When in doubt, a short and sweet intro will always serve you well. This may not seem like the most interesting way to kick things off, but you mustn’t underestimate the power of a simple opening sentence that gets to the point. For instance…
Having trouble promoting your catering business online? Here are 6 social media hacks you need to know.
The worst thing you can do is waffle. If you have a tendency to waffle (and I put myself firmly in this category sometimes), just remember that you can always say what needs to be said in the body of your article. Trim down your introduction for greater readability and a deceptively powerful start to your article.
Give your article a little extra pizzazz by tying your conclusion back to your intro. By linking the two together in some way, this allows you to elaborate upon a quote or to finish a thought you may have expressed. This way, readers will be reminded of your great intro and are likely to feel more invested in your article as a whole.
Start your next piece in one of these five ways and you won’t go far wrong. Do any fellow writers here at WD have a favourite way of opening an article? What do you think makes a strong introduction? Let us know in the comments below! (Sorry, best answers won’t get a free chocolate bar.)