Say the most important thing first

Many people write a newsletter article the way they would give a speech— by starting with the background. It works for a speech because people are in their seats and have made a commitment to hear you out. However, the technique doesn’t translate to writing. Your audience has made no commitment. Instead, the reader is performing a test: Is this article worth reading? Should I invest any more time? Your audience performs that test over and over as they go through your article and newsletter. If the headline and the first few words catch their interest, you’ve passed the first test and they’ll keep reading. If the rest of the first sentence delivers, they’ll keep reading. They keep testing and reading, testing and reading, until they either finish the article or they stop reading. If they stop reading, it’s not necessarily a failure on your part. Not every article will pertain to them; for example, you might be writing about an event that’s happening on a day when they already had plans. But if you structure your article correctly, you have done that reader a service because the reader was able to discover early in the article that he or she could move on to an article that is more pertinent. As we said in the headline, say the most important thing first.

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