“Occasionally, speakers try to bring too much to their opening paragraph. They essentially give away the punchline of their talk, writes Chris Anderson, head of TED Talks. Instead of giving it all away up front, he advises, imagine what kind of language will seduce the audience into wanting to come along for the ride.
- Ineffective opening: “Today I’m going to explain to you that the key to success as an entrepreneur is determination.”
- Effective opening: “Over the next few minutes I plan to reveal what I believe is the key to success as an entrepreneur, and anyone here can cultivate it. You’ll find clues in the story I’m about to tell.”
As a blogging trainer, I use the analogy of the “downbeat”, the opening bars of music, which set the mood for the concerto to come. The equivalent in blog writing is the opening sentence of each blog post.
From a “scientific” standpoint, of course, you want to use keyword phrases in the title and first sentences of each blog post to help search engines match your content with the search terms online readers used. But SEO aside, the press release aspect of writing for business dictates that the first ten words of any post be effective in engaging interest.
So how can blog writing for business make the most effective use of Anderson’s advice about not bringing too much to the opening paragraph? The Happy Freelancer says opening sentences can:
- Raise questions in readers’ minds
- Illustrate a provocative scene
- Connect with readers
I would add a fourth item to the list: Startle readers.
Bring just enough, not too much, to the beginning of your blog posts!