3 Tips to Writing an Attention Grabbing Lead

from Annette 

Your audience, on average, gives your content about 20 seconds before they decide to continue reading or to click away.  Myriad eye tracking studies have been conducted and they all come to one basic conclusion – readers and website visitors usually read your headline first, scan your copy quickly (and we’re talking seconds here) for a reason to read your article or web page, and then if so motivated will go back and read your first paragraph and hopefully continue on to read the entire article.

This means your first paragraph, your lead, plays a very important role in whether or not the remainder of the article will be read.  Here are three tips to getting your readers attention every time.

#1  What is the most unusual or jaw dropping statistic or quote you have?  What has the biggest wow factor?  For example, if you’re writing an article on how to save money with your home heating, then your lead might contain an eye popping statistic about how much one family was able to save or how much the average consumer wastes.  (We’ll discuss how to find these nuggets of data in a subsequent post).

#2  Introduce a little daytime television – human drama.  People love stories, especially stories with a little drama or tension – Shakespeare was onto something.  Start your article with a human element.  For example if you’re writing an article on budgeting or financial management you could start by telling your audience about a particular family who on the edge of bankruptcy was able to bring their finances back under control.  The article would then go into some tips on how to accomplish this.

#3 Tap into curiosity.  Presenting a common problem or trend that we all have, or that your audience has, and then stating that you have a unique but effective solution for that problem.  Don’t state the solution in the lead – allude to it.  Spark their curiosity.

Your lead is perhaps the most important paragraph in your article.  However the pressure to write a catchy lead can be overwhelming and the all familiar writer’s block is sure to pop up with too much pressure.  Write your lead keeping in mind that you are going to go back and polish it up once you’ve completed the article.  Often times, after writing the article, you’ll see a better way to write your lead.  You’ll uncover an angle or a snippet of information that’s just perfect for your lead.  This process enables you to write the article with a bit of structure and it eliminates the pressure for first time perfection.

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