We remember firsts and lasts much more than we remember ‘in betweens’. Most people can remember their first day at school, or what they had for dinner last night, for example. That’s why introductions and conclusions are perhaps the two most critical parts of any document.
Unfortunately, they’re also often the weakest. Most people have no idea how to write an introduction that grabs the reader’s attention. And even more people neglect to write a conclusion altogether.
But there are four basic types of intro and ending that you can use for most documents. Here are two of them.
Many people follow the misguided advice to start somewhere in the middle and write the introduction last. But getting your introduction right doesn’t just attract the reader, it also helps your document flow as you write. So begin writing your introduction first.
One of the most effective types of introduction is the ‘historical’ beginning. This type of introduction contrasts what used to happen last year/century or whenever with what’s happening now, and creates a real sense of movement in your reader’s mind. For example:
‘Ten years ago, the marketing budget was Â£3 million a year. Now that figure has almost tripled.’
Now you’ve got your reader’s attention, they’ll almost certainly be eager to know why the budget has increased so much. Start telling them, and they’re hooked.
The conclusion is your opportunity to leave a lasting impression and keep what you’ve written in the reader’s mind. One good way to do this is to look forward, or predict the future. For example:
‘The annual report shows that growth has been steady, but sales still need to improve for the upturn to continue.’
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