What your introduction needs:
author objective, reader incentive

The introduction to any piece of writing serves as the first steps towards an intended destination. Good decisions here will be paid back throughout the rest of the journey.

One useful way to find and keep focus is to define author objective and reader incentive in every introduction you write.

A good introduction states the author objective and reader incentive.
  • Author objective: What point are you making?
  • Reader incentive: Why should people care?

Of course, you shouldn’t spell it out like a 3rd grade book report (“The reason I wrote this blog post is because…”). Strong statements written in plain language will get the job done, as they always have.

Advice is a dangerous gift, so I should at least practice what I preach, right? Here’s an example from one of my pieces on Help Scout.

Introductions vary in form and function; one size can’t fit all. But if you need to fall back on a proven approach, stating the objective and incentive will help surface the core ideas in your piece and force you to support those ideas throughout the rest of the article.

You’ll notice this mirrors the iron rule of journalism: put the lead up front. “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus” is on the mind of every reader you’ll never meet. Don’t leave them wondering what your point is, tell them immediately with language that commands attention.

About the author: Gregory Ciotti is a marketer and (embarrassingly infrequent) writer. Previously, he led content marketing on Shopify’s growth team and was executive editor on the communications team.