August 17, 2021

9 Tips for Elevating Your Article’s Introductory Paragraph

The headline is one of the essential parts of an article, but the introduction is just as crucial. It does the heavy lifting—it bears the reader’s expectations from the title and helps them ease into the main idea of the piece. Stuck writing the introduction of an article? Here are tips that could help!

Write the Body before the Introduction

Write the introduction the last. It’s more efficient to start with the body of the article, make your way to the conclusion, and go back to the start. It’s because you tend to have a better grasp of the topic after you’ve fleshed it out. When you write your introduction first, you run the risk of a mismatch between it and the body. If you spent hours writing the “perfect” intro, that’s a lot of work down the drain!

If you have an excellent idea for the intro but haven’t written the body, you can write a two- to three-sentence description that can act as a placeholder. Then, return to the intro after you’ve written the rest of the article.

Keep the Introduction’s Purpose in Mind

The introduction, which consists of one or two paragraphs, should give readers a good picture of the scope of your article. It should give background information about the topic or provide a context for your main idea. 

This paragraph doesn’t function the same way as an intro in fiction or a personal essay. In creative works like those, the first sentences keep the reader in suspense. They unfold the tension slowly. For informational or persuasive texts like articles, you need to state the purpose or lay the context right away.

Go from General to Specific

In writing the first paragraph of an article, it’s best to go for a “top-down” approach, where you state a big concept or problem at the start and break it down into smaller chunks. With this method, you give an overview of the topic at the start and narrow the discussion down to the specific points you want to make. In short, your introduction needs to sell the rest of the article. It should get readers to scroll down to the meat of the discussion.

Use a Pain Point to Ease into the Topic

Most people read online for information, not entertainment. If they’re on a business blog, it means they’re looking for a solution. When you highlight pain points at the start of your articles, it makes readers sit up. You affirm them that they’re where they should be. Don’t just mention the pain point—show them you understand what they go through. If you do this well, you create anticipation for the solution. 

Meet the Expectations in the Intro

You can’t just agitate a pain point and leave the audience hanging. If you don’t deliver on your promise at the start, the audience will lose interest and click away. Telling your audience what to expect gives you a path through the discussion, but you have to remember what you promised.

For longer texts, you could even use the intro to briefly touch on what you will cover, mention the order in which you’ll go, and the takeaways your audience will have. Workers are busy, so many of them won’t read articles from start to finish. 

Covering your outline in the introduction helps them navigate to the specific section they need. If you don’t meet the expectations you set, they’ll be unlikely to consult you again for answers.

Show Why They Must Address the Pain Point

At times, people are already aware of the pain point. In that case, spending an entire paragraph reminding them of it won’t be the best way to get them hooked. Instead, convince them that reading your post will help improve their life. Selling them the benefits of following your system will get them excited about reading your post. 

Your blog should help them achieve a goal, perform a task, or address their concerns, and the intro should show them the benefits of taking your approach.

Start With a Question, Not a Statement

Asking a question is sometimes the best way to start an article. When you ask a question, you encourage readers to stop and think about a response, even if you’re not asking out loud. They actively think about the topic, which keeps them on the page. It’s up to you to transition from the question to the rest of your intro—you could use other methods of starting a paragraph, like providing context, triggering pain points, or highlighting benefits.

Make an Opinion or Claim

If you have the data or research to back you up, you can start strong with an opinion or a claim. Forceful statements generate tension, which is the primary ingredient of drama. Incidentally, the best stories are steeped in tension and engage the audience. You can create tension in your introduction by challenging popular notions or giving the readers your two cents about a controversial issue.

Confrontational introductions cause people to either agree, disagree, or wonder why you’re making those statements. They rarely stay neutral, and they’d want to keep reading to learn more.

Start with a Quote or Statistic

Statistics and quotes make your first paragraph more compelling. Quoting an expert or presenting figures from research can create a framework for your entire piece. You can use quotes to summarize best practices or state generally accepted truths, which sets the context. You can also use a quote as a setup for a counterargument.

It’s easiest to start a paragraph with a quote or statistic, so this approach is also the most popular one. Using it too much could make your writing lazy, so keep it to a minimum and use quotes from thought leaders or interesting, unexplored voices.

Conclusion

The introduction is a crucial part of any article. It’s what convinces people to keep scrolling down the page. In your intro, make a claim or promise that you can support or fulfill in the rest of the article. Always match the type of intro you use to the audience and the article's purpose—otherwise, people won’t bother reading the piece.

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