When Not to Save the Best for Last

I read a news release today. I read the entire release because someone had given it to me as a writing sample, and I like to be helpful when I can.

In approximately 450 words, I learned about a fascinating sports league I had known nothing about. But here is what I learned in the very last sentence:

"The all-star team is currently ranked second in the nation."

If I had not been committed to help the writer, I would never have gotten to the end of the piece and that factual gem.

A news release is a bad place to save the best for last. That mention of the all-star team ranked second nationally should have grabbed me (and a news editor) in the title, subtitle, or first sentence.

After reading the release, I looked through the writer’s resume and found the same problem. Her awards appeared last, at the bottom of the page. I should have learned she was an award-winning writer in the first line after her name and address.

If you write poems, short stories, and novels, save the best for last. Make your readers sigh with satisfaction as they read the last word and close the book. But if you write for business, hook the reader with your best offer, idea, achievement, etc., at the top of page 1. It may be your only chance.

Lynn
Syntax Training

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Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact. A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors. A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media. Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English. She grew up in suburban Chicago, Illinois.

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