Your readers are a bit like people checking out a new store. When they enter the store, they notice whether it’s clean and well lit. Next, they consider the ambiance of the room – is it comfortable and inviting? Finally, they pass judgment on the products – does the store have what they are looking for? Is it high-quality and reasonably priced? Based on these quick impressions, they either start to shop or leave immediately.
In the same way, your readers will form an instant impression of your content based on your introduction. It doesn’t matter how great your message is. If your intro is boring, odds are, your visitors will leave your site before they ever read the rest of it. On the other hand, if you start off with a captivating introduction, your readers will be hooked and most likely read it till the end.
What You Should Know About Writing The Introduction
While crafting gripping blog introductions isn’t easy, bringing in a defined structure to your writing process can make it effortless.
You can do this by having a list of introduction templates you can modify and build upon. A good collection removes the legwork of thinking how to start. You won’t need to ask yourself, “How do I start this blog post?”
Rather, you’ll just go through the list of possible leads, one by one, and ponder which one is best to use.
When you run through the different types of introductions, create a quick output for each. For example, if you start with intro #1 which is ‘Share a Personal Story’, what related story can you share? Do the same for all the intros and then pick the one you think is most effective for your topic.
When you have a list of intros to refer to, starting to write about your topic becomes less daunting. There’s no need for waiting for inspiration. You just run through the possibilities and take a pick.
A Rolodex Of Irresistible Introductions To Use In Your Next Blog Post
So what are the different ways you can start your post? Here they are:
1. Share a Personal Story
Stories have an unfair advantage over any other introduction types out there because they’re so easy to do yet so compelling. There’s something about stories that captures our minds and hearts in a way nothing else does.
Psychologist Melanie Green from the University of North Carolina says that storytelling changes the way people process information and that the more a person is absorbed in a story, the more the story changes them.
People never tire of hearing stories. So share yours. You can start by recounting a funny situation which gave you a new insight about something or by telling your readers how you overcame a problem. Be genuine and let your personality shine.
I didn’t own a bike when I was a kid. My parents couldn’t afford to get me one and, as a result, I didn’t learn to ride until I was 20 in an embarrassing lesson involving the streets of Kitsilano, a too-large bike, and a friend who is 6 feet tall.
From: Biking (and Writing) Like It’s No Big Deal, Publication Coach
2. Share an Imaginary Story or Anecdote
It’s nice to have lots of things going on in your life – meeting new people and experiencing new things. They give you raw material for your writing.
But not everyone has a novelty-rich life. If you’re like most people, you are subject to routines and mundane things. But this doesn’t mean your writing should be void of color.
The good news is, imaginary anecdotes work just as well as personal stories as far as captivating your readers is concerned. Of course, this depends on how well you craft an anecdote. But generally speaking, stories have a stickiness factor in our minds. This study confirms that not only do they give us a vivid picture about something, they also stay in our minds longer than dry facts.
However, make sure you’re being honest to your readers. Don’t try to pass off a made-up story as something that really happened. Make it clear to your readers that you are painting an imaginary scene to introduce your message.
To do this, start by describing a common scenario your target readers often find themselves in.
Picture this scenario:
You sit down at your computer, ready to write another killer scene in your novel. The book is nearly done. It’s a heartbreaking work of staggering genius. This is the one that’s gonna make you a star, baby. You start up your machine and… Nasty clicking sounds come from your hard drive. Harsh metallic noises. This is not the happy buzz of a hard drive at peace with the world.
This is the sound of data dying.
From: Organization: The Trouble With Backup, Advanced Fiction Writing
3. Share an Interesting Fact
Next to stories, interesting facts are another easy way to draw your readers in. Not only can you capture their attention without trying too hard, facts from reputable sources also give your content a credibility boost.
In the book Made to Stick, authors Chip and Dan Heath retell a hoax in Costa Rica that makes a fine example of the power of credibility. It all started from an email, allegedly circulated by the Manheim Research Institute, warning consumers of a flesh-eating bacteria in bananas shipped into the country. What’s more, it claimed that the FDA was reluctant to officially warn the public for fear of a nationwide panic.
The rumor was soon debunked by the Centers for Disease Control. But not before it spread like wildfire among locals. So the lesson here is: Don’t underestimate the power of facts.
That said, don’t fabricate rumors to grab your readers’ attention. Depending on your industry, you can easily find several real facts your readers will find interesting. You’ll need to do some research here. When using this type of intro, use exact numbers if you can and make sure to state the source.
Extroverts, those outgoing, gregarious types who wear their personalities on their sleeve, are generally happier, studies show.
From: How an Introvert Can Be Happier: Act Like an Extrovert, WSJ
4. Surprise Your Readers
Social Media Today suggests that content that triggers high-arousal emotions like surprise are more likely to be shared. This is one reason why articles with you-won’t-believe-this type of headlines go viral (think Buzzfeed).
When applying this in your intro, start by sharing a shocking news or creating a metaphor that directs your readers into thinking that something is wrong.
This can be tricky to pull off, but when done right, your readers won’t be able to resist what you have to say next.
‘My husband is a great guy. He’s smart, funny, handsome. A great dad. Knows his way around a grill. Will watch America’s Funniest Videos with me. Can catch and kill mosquitoes in mid-air with one hand. For eleven years, night after magical night, I have lain beside him in bed, studying the strong curve of his face, watching the rhythmic rise and fall of his chest and mentally rehearsing exactly how I’m going to kill him.’”
From The Sound… and the Fury, Jenna Mccarthy
5. Share a Lesson
Since the dawn of mankind, people have relied on learned lessons to survive in life. There are some great collections out there, often in the form of quotes from notable personalities and science-backed findings. If you can find a lesson that illustrates the core of your content’s message, then it may be the best way to start.
If you’re going to your parole hearing, do your best to see the judge as early in the day as possible.
That’s a lesson from an Israeli university study that followed 1,100 court decisions over the course of a year. Prisoners who appeared early in the day received parole about 70% of the time while those that came late in the evening had less than 10% chance at landing parole.
From Quick: End Decision Fatigue Before It Drains Your Productivity Reservoir, Fast Company
6. Ask a Question
Questions are a crucial component in thinking and learning. They stimulate the brain and stir the imagination. Researchers have discovered that questions activate the new brain or neocortex which is responsible for sensory perception, generation of motor commands, as well as conscious thoughts.
Just as asking a stranger in a networking event helps break the ice, starting your post with a question instantly connects you with your readers and intensifies their curiosity. The key is to ask a question which they can’t answer without reading the rest of your content.
New research shows that economic hard times can make us less narcissistic and self-absorbed. But what happens when the economy recovers?
From: Money Can’t Buy You (Self) Love, Psychology Today
More Tips to Consider
Give your readers something they can easily picture in their minds. The opposite of this is giving them an abstract idea they couldn’t understand which is a bit like teaching calculus to a five-year-old.
Be careful in transitioning. Your intro should not feel like it has been “tacked on” to dupe people to keep reading. Work to make it flow seamlessly to the rest of your content.
Use plain language. Cut the fluff and huge words. They kill the purpose of your intro.
Strive for an economy of words. Your intro is a bit like going to the movie house. If moviegoers see a long ticket queue, chances are they’ll become discouraged and skip the movie. In the same way, don’t give your readers a long wait before giving them the real meat of your content. Skip the minor details and give just enough to introduce your topic.
When someone visits your website, you only have a few seconds to grab their attention. So don’t take chances with long-winded introductions that confuse to your target audience. Learn from others who are doing it well. Paint a clear picture. Remember, it’s your only chance to make an impression.
What do you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!