How to Hook the Reader in Your Business Writing
If you want to improve your business writing, consider how you will hook your reader. Only in rare cases these days do you have the luxury of building up to a grand conclusion, one step at a time. Your audience simply won’t stick around.
The opening paragraph of anything you write must instantly hook your readers. The best way to do this is to link directly to their central interests and concerns, within the framework of your purpose.
Say you’re informing the staff that the office will be closed on Tuesday to install new air-conditioning. You can write:
Subject: About next Tuesday
As you know, the company is always interested in your comfort and well being. As part of our company improvement plan this past year, we’ve installed improved lighting in the hallways, and in response to your request that we …
Stop! No one is reading this! Instead, try this:
Subject: Office closed Tuesday
We’re installing new air-conditioning! Tuesday is the day, so we’re giving you a holiday.
I’m happy the company is able to respond to your number 1 request on the staff survey and hope you are too.
One of the best ways to hook readers is also the simplest: Get to the point. The technique applies even to long documents. Start with the bottom line, such as the result you achieved, the strategy you recommend, or the action you want. In a report or proposal, the executive summary is often the way to do that, but note that even this micro version of your full message still needs to lead off with your most important point.
Note in the preceding example that the subject line of the email is part of the lead and is planned to hook readers as much as the first paragraph of the message.