I was catching up on news yesterday and came across an article that began with this:
An Illinois woman mourns her two young daughters, swept to their deaths in Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters. It’s a tragic and terrifying story. It’s also a lie.
Any article that details accounts of fraud in the aftermath of Katrina would likely contain compelling information. But that opening had me riveted, and it got me reading a detailed and lengthy piece that I might have otherwise skipped out of laziness.
The article went on for 1,136 words before elaboration on that initial illustration. It finally came as the initial bullet point in a list of false claims for relief after Katrina.
In Illinois, Tina Marie Winston claimed she watched as her daughters, 5 and 6, drowned in the raging waters. She also said her New Orleans home had been swamped. Winston has no children and was living hundreds of miles away when Katrina struck. A judge acknowledged Winston’s mental troubles but sentenced her to four years in prison for defrauding FEMA and others scams.
This type of teaser opening with a delayed resolution works for just about any type of written or verbal presentation. You always want to grab attention quickly and hold it while you provide the surrounding facts or lesson. The main information is the same, but the level of attention and fascination on the reader’s part is greatly heightened, leading to better retention and potential for persuasion.
For more on crafting powerful openings, check out 5 Simple Ways to Open Your Blog Post with a Bang.