By Kath Walters

I want you to change the way you write in one essential way: put the most important message in the first line.

As readers, we are time poor. We scan the first few lines of anything we read – an email, a proposal, a blog – looking for a single piece of essential information: do I need to take any action in response to this communication?

As writers, if we immediately request the action we want the reader to take, they are more likely to do it. I did that in this blog. Everything you need to know to be a better writer is in that first line.

So why keep reading?

Of course, if you are moved to action by my request, you do not need to keep reading this blog. The same goes for readers of your email or pitch or blog.
Does it matter if they do not continue reading the missive you have put so much effort into? In my view, the answer is no.

As my reader, if you are willing to believe me, and to change your actions without further explanation, that’s great. You just saved yourself five minutes.
If your readers act upon the first line of your email, pitch or proposal, then both you and they will be really happy. If they need more information, they will read on.

Isn’t it rude?

Some of you might worry that it is rude to be so blunt. Of course, don’t be rude. You might even start with ‘How are you?’ in an email before you get straight to the point. But my case still holds.

That’s because it is also rude to waste people’s time. If they are ready to act, but cannot find your request because it is buried in the middle or your email, or pitch, that will frustrate them. If they need more convincing to act, they will continue to read, all the while bearing in mind what you have suggested they do in the first line.

This is gonna be fun

Writing skilfully is 99% momentum. We have to practice, just like we need to exercise to stay fit. Apply this simple tip and you will be practicing to write more skilfully every day. When you start being upfront, direct and crystal clear in all your daily business writing, you’ll be surprised how much more effective you can be and how much time you can save.

And, you will enjoy the writing you do every day so much more.

Which is what I love to see.