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Obvious. Boring. Unforgivable.

When we start writing any piece of content, why do so many of us try to bore our audience into stopping reading straight away?

I see it on short blog posts, white papers, magazine articles, even data sheets …everything really. The offender? Telling them something they already know.

The best example of this is the worst (and one of the most common) openings in history: “The Oxford English Dictionary defines…”

However, it can be anything. I’ve seen data sheets that begin: “The Acme Extended Blue Widget is a blue widget with extended performance.”

No ****, Sherlock.

Sure, in many cases, like a data sheet, we might think it doesn’t matter because the reader needs the information in the document. But that’s delusional in many cases.

As many good articles on this subject say, the first sentence or paragraph is there to persuade the reader to read the next one.

There are many ways to do this. Ask a question. Write a genuinely interesting fact. Convince the reader that what’s coming up is unique. Or just answer the classic question “What’s in this for me?”

It’s not that difficult to do. But it seems to be hard for us to remember to do it.