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What’s the Worst way to Start? -- (Part 1)
By Paul Krantz

If I told you that I was going to reveal the worst technique for starting an article, memo, report or press release, would you believe me?

Look at the sentence above and you’ll see the worst way to begin any written communication: with a question. Why is leading with a question so bad? Here are five reasons:

1. You are forcing the reader to express an opinion before you’ve earned the right to ask. Wouldn’t you bristle if someone you just met started the conversation with a difficult or personal question?

2. You slow down the reader. In most cases, a question adds nothing to the persuasive or informative power of your communication.

3. Question leads give readers an excuse to bail.

“What if I told you that you could make $100,000 a year by working only 3 hours a day?”

While some readers will be drawn in by this “intriguing” opening, others will simply say “baloney!” and depart before you’ve had a chance to begin making your point.

4. You risk making the reader feel foolish.

“Are you one of the millions who aren’t saving enough for retirement?”

The goal of this lead is to get your readers to admit failure. Those who say yes to the question will feel like failures. And if your readers don’t know the answer, which is the most likely response, you make them feel a part of the unwashed masses.

5. You reveal your own lack of confidence. By asking a question, you are trying to set yourself up as an expert, much as a good doctor asks questions before making a diagnosis. In reality, your reader has no reason to trust you so early in the encounter.
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