First impressions are powerful. Research scientists find that our brains decide if we like someone within less than 30 seconds of meeting them. And the first impression lasts. These same scientists note that a region of the brain that lights up on digital scans when encountering a person again are the same regions where the original first impression is stored. This means that no matter how many times we meet someone, we always compare that encounter to our initial first impression. It’s important to start strong.
The concept of the first impression translates to the process of writing. The first few sentences of an article, blog or story are critical in determining whether a person will read through to the end of the piece, or disregard it altogether and move on to something else. That’s why the opening paragraph of an article is called the “lead.” It leads you into the story and entices you to read more.
Here’s an example of a powerful lead sentence from a piece I wrote that published just this week in Lawn & Landscape magazine:
“In the windswept North of England, a naked lady draws a crowd.”
OK, seriously, don’t you want to know what that’s all about? Yes, I am a bit partial because I wrote it. (We writers tend to fall in love with our words and this is by far my favorite sentence that I’ve written this year.)
My ego aside, it’s a darn good sentence. You don’t know what the story is about but you want to learn more. That, my friends, is a good first impression. In writing or in life, our goal is draw people in, to engage others, to be a bigger part of the world around us, and maybe to leave it a little better than we found it. But we can only do that if we interact well.
So, I challenge you to start strong. Leave a good first impression. Smile more. Speak purposefully. Write powerfully. Act with kindness. You will be judged on your first time at bat. Make it a good one.
To read the rest of the story about the naked lady and the crowd, click here.
Stacie Zinn Roberts is a nationally recognized, award-winning writer and marketing expert with more than 25 years of experience. She has won more than 40 national awards for her work including the United Nations Environmental Program for retail environmental marketing, as well as from organizations such at the Public Relations Society of America and the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association. She’s written for industry publications such as Golf Course Management, Sports Turf, Golfdom and PR Daily. She spent eight years as the president and director of marketing for Environmental Turf, where she developed the branding for SeaDwarf Seashore Paspalum, the grass that eventually became the greens grass for the Rio Olympic Golf Course. Stacie served for six years on the Board of Directors of the Florida Turfgrass Association as Chair of the Research & Scholarship Committee where she worked closely with the scientists from the University of Florida’s turfgrass breeding program. Stacie founded What’s Your Avocado? Marketing & Public Relations in 2012.
Such an amazing accomplishment. Absolutely stunning. As was your headline. Best sentence this year…so far. Looking forward to many more spectacular headlines like the ‘naked lady’. Great work Stacie.
Thank you, Rebecca! You know what else was fun about writing this story? The project was engineered by a company owned by friend of mine from high school. So, I got to tell his story, too! Feels great to spread the love.
Love the lead sentence as well as the ensuing article. What an interesting thing to do. Who says utilitarian cannot be beautiful as well?
Thank you, Judith! It was a fun story to write!
Great article and excellent presentation. Thank you for taking me to the lady.
Look forward to reading your other blogs.
Thank you! I appreciate your feedback!