Three Beginnings

You probably know that good content should capture the audience’s attention from the first bit. Beginnings are super important because that’s the first thing your audience comes across. This is how they decide whether they should spend more time with your text, continue listening to your podcast, or watch the next two minutes of your video. But there is more than one way to make your audience curious.

In this issue, we explore three ways to start a piece of content. Their effectiveness depends on the context and the effect you aim to achieve. If you create content regularly, keep your audience engaged by using a different type of opening each time.

Begin with the Challenge

The most common way to introduce the idea is by describing the problem you are trying to solve. When you begin your text with a description of the challenge, your audience knows exactly what to expect. They know what they are supposed to get by the end of the piece, and assuming the challenge is relevant to them, they are motivated to see how you propose to resolve it.

The fact that this opening is common does not mean it is not effective. Assuming you can deliver on your promise, any person who experiences the challenge you describe will be potentially hooked. At the same time, if your problem statement is too broad or abstract, you should beware of repeating it in one text after the other. You can avoid such repetition by finding a more concrete angle of the challenge in each content item or using a different type of opening.

Begin with the Bottom Line

Sounds strange, doesn’t it? If you start with the punch, won’t it make the rest of the content unnecessary? Well, not necessarily.

Sometimes the punch sounds so strange when you state it without any preparation that it triggers an immediate “wait, what?” response. If the answer you provide is not trivial, it makes the audience wonder. As much as it is an answer, it raises questions, and this, in turn, makes the audience curious.

It’s a different kind of mystery. Instead of not knowing the answer, the audience does not understand how this could be the answer. And that’s precisely what we need to lure them to stay with our content until the mystery is resolved.

Which brings us to another kind of mystery…

Begin with a Side Story

Embedding stories in your content is an effective way to deliver your message in a more memorable (and sometimes emotionally engaging) way. But how about starting with a story that seems completely unrelated to the topic you write about?

When you open your text with a good story, you can get your audience interested. When you manage to create a mystery with your story, even if only by obscuring its connection to the message, you get your audience hooked. Leverage this mystery by gradually revealing the connection until it is evident by the end of the piece.

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yellow spice version: 2022.05.0017

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