Start with a bang

Show, don’t just tell, in the lead

I was training a group of magazine writers recently, when one brave soul, Marty, shared his lead:

“As someone who’s built build models in some exotic places, I know it’s easier when you have a special modeling studio.”
Start with a bang

Rock the boat Stop writing dreary abstract leads. Start with a bang, not a whimper, when you lead with concrete details. Image by Ron Cogswell

“Hmmm …,” I said, “Exotic places, huh? Where are some of most the exotic places where you’ve built models?”

“On a battleship during a storm,” he answered. “In a tent in Saudi Arabia. Under my blanket as a kid when I was supposed to be doing my homework.”

“Marty,” I said, “that’s your lead.”

Perhaps nothing is harder about writing a feature-style story than showing in the lead and telling in the nut graph. Illustrate, then explain. Most writers do the reverse …

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“A few vivid details might be more persuasive than a barrage of statistics.”
— Chip Heath and Dan Heath, authors, Made to Stick

Lead on

Draw readers in by putting your best stuff up top

With so many lead approaches to choose from — I can think of 14 off the top of my head — why do corporate communicators so often write leads that are almost guaranteed to make readers’ eyes glaze over?

Lead on

All aboard! Draw readers into your message with a concrete lead. Find out how at our Catch Your Reader Master Class in April in Atlanta. Image by Bruno Girin

At Catch Your Readers — a two-day writing Master Class on April 20-21 in Atlanta — you’ll learn a three-step process for determining whether your lead will draw readers in or convince them not to waste their time.

You’ll discover seven types of leads that grab reader attention — and seven that just make them reach for the remote. You’ll find out how to avoid leading with the blah-blah, what kind of lead leads readers astray and which lead should have been tossed out with the telegraph.

Our early bird tickets for this workshop sold out almost immediately. But you can still nab a seat — and save up to $100 each if you bring a friend or two.

Don’t miss out. Register now.

Register now

“Amazing. Made me feel energized and excited about writing again.”
— Rosemary Gudelj, senior manager of Public Affairs,

Polish your skills at our 2016 Master Classes

Learn to Catch Your Readers, Get Clicked, Cut Through the Clutter and more

Register for persuasive writing workshop in Atlanta on April 20-21
Register for tight writing workshop in Chicago on May 11-12

Register for writing workshop in San Diego on June 28-29
Register for PR writing workshop in Portland on July 27-28

Register for Online writing workshop in New York on Sept. 28-29
Register for writing workshop in Houston on Nov. 2-3
Rather bring Ann in to train your whole team?
Contact Ann directly.

Catch Ann on the road

Save when you book a workshop while I’m in your neighborhood

Ask about piggybacking on my upcoming engagements in:

  • Atlanta: April 20-21
  • Bloomington, Indiana: April 5
  • Chicago: May 11-12
  • Houston: Nov. 2-3
  • New Orleans: June 6-8
  • New York: Sept. 28-29
  • Portland: July 27-28
  • Raleigh, North Carolina: May 3-4
  • San Diego: June 28-29

Keep up with my calendar.