Quick Tips: Is the heart of your story buried?

Every founder I work with tells me it takes waaay too long to explain their business to people.

How do you turn something so big into a concise story that gets people interested?

Journalists face this challenge with every article they write: how to hook readers from the first sentence with a great lead.

A “lead” is the all-important first sentence in a news story that captures the core message in one simple line, like: “An 8-year-old Ohio boy is being called a hero after he saved himself and his older sister from a kidnapping attempt.”

The idea is to write the most important thing first, so if people stop reading, they get the gist.

It’s not easy. Even journalists don’t get it right every time. They call it “burying the lead” — losing the heart of the story inside a bunch of distracting, supporting details.

Burying the lead is the default setting — we all tend to start there.

Don Wycliff, prize-winning journalist, said: “If I’ve got two hours in which to write a story, the best investment I can make is to spend the first hour and 45 minutes of it getting a good lead, because after that everything will come easily.”

It’s worth taking the time to get to the heart of your story.

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