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Ever wondered why some articles are better read than others? What boosts an article’s popularity anyway? The secret is all in the first paragraph.
People’s attention spans have grown shorter and shorter in recent years, and while most of us can sit through a two to a three-hour movie, the reality is quite different for reading. Sitting through a one-thousand-word article will only be enchanting if there’s something interesting in it for the reader.
A strong hook right from the start is essential in attracting the right type of audience. One bad paragraph at the beginning can turn your readers off for the rest of the article if they read on at all. Fortunately, while ideas are difficult to come by, they’re not totally impossible to achieve.
Here’s how you can improve your writing and hook your target audience immediately:
1. Start with a question
Did you know that starting with a question hooks your audience right away? Moving them to think about an answer related to the rest of the article will draw the focus to your first paragraph. After hooking them with your question, follow up with an interesting sentence to support your point and introduce your topic.
Example: How do you engage the audience? With these tips, you’re sure to grab people’s attention and engage their senses.
2. Open with a quotation
Opening with a quotation inspires readers. Creative writers from EduGeeksClub say that most people want to be in the know of what famous personalities have said and done. Associating your work with a celebrity or a prominent figure in history makes your article more intriguing and interesting to read.
Example: The famous author, Julio Cortazar once wrote, “In quoting others, we cite ourselves.” Using quotations to amplify your work hooks the reader’s attention and associates it with the famous personality you’re citing.
3. Shock or surprise your audience
Surprising statements break free from the mold of everyday sentences and jump out at your audience.
As a favorite among most writers, this is one of the most effective techniques for attracting attention to your article. Just make sure that these shocking statements are still related to your work’s purpose. The element of surprise loses its credibility if you use it solely for the purpose of shock without enough substance.
Example: Learning first-aid can save a life. Don’t wait for your loved ones to be on the line before picking up a few simple first-aid techniques.
4. Start with an interesting statistic
Studies show that introducing statistics in your article boosts your audience’s interest in it.
Putting numbers in your work makes you appear more credible. Starting your article with these factual statements make the following points in your article also seem more trustworthy.
Adopt a matter-of-fact tone, and don’t sound like you’re doubting yourself and your sources when you present these types of information.
Example: Around 65% of the population these days are visual learners. This means that their learning process responds better to visual cues like pictures and graphs.
5. Start with a joke, anecdote or a funny story
Begin with a small story or a joke that leads into the topic of your article. Since people’s minds are more susceptible to familiar narratives, your audience will appreciate something like an engaging anecdote that you can tie in later with what you’re talking about.
Example: The rags to riches story of established writers have moved and inspired countless generations of aspiring young authors themselves. One of these now well-known authors is Stephen King, who, before his rise to fame, received many rejection letters as a freelancer. Despite all this, he persevered and became the renowned king of horror novels we know today.
1. Start with the definition
This is too plain and straight to the point. Readers have seen this technique used countless of times. In fact, it’s one of the most basic things we’re first taught to write within our first school writing assignments. Spice up your article and show your flexibility in writing with a different approach.
Example: An article is a written work intended for an audience. These mainly cater to a specific group, or may be intended for wider reading.
Going off tangent confuses people and might detract them from your main point.
Make sure everything you put in your initial paragraph will be tied together with the rest of your article later on. If you’re using quotes or anecdotes, avoid using those that aren’t relevant to what you’re talking about.
Example: According to William Shakespeare, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” Changing environments and views of the educational system have affected people’s learning processes and now require them to adapt to more digital change than ever before.
3. Show your diffidence
Never let the audience feel that you’re uncertain about what you’re talking about. They will only trust someone who appears trustworthy, and having a self-doubting tone will definitely put them off. Instead of a diffident voice, be more confident by cutting out doubtful statements like “I’m not sure, but…”, “I apologize…”, etc.
Example: I’m not sure, but I think this argument has a valid point. It presents itself well, although maybe this isn’t what the reader is looking for.
The Takeaway: Reel Them In
Attracting your audience’s attention can be very difficult, especially if at a time when people can easily access various materials at the tip of their fingers. However, reeling them in with an insightful and interesting article shouldn’t be too difficult, as long as you have a killer first paragraph to hook their interests right away.
Avoid sounding doubtful or random from the get-go and establish an organic connection with your introduction and the rest of the article with engaging statements like anecdotes, quotes, and questions which prompt thought and inspire the reader to go on to the following parts of your article. Read also about headline secrets and grab people’s attentions with a great first paragraph and effective writing skills!