Storytelling Tip: Start with your most important info
Today’s tip from JerryBrownPR’s storytelling tips on the Experience Pros Radio Show
By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Consultant
Welcome to the inverted pyramid that journalists learn about from the people who teach them how to write. Start with your most important information. Put the least important information at the bottom.
I’ve never understood why the pyramid’s inverted since that point at top always seems to be the pinnacle to me. But who am I to argue with all those journalists and the people who taught them to write?
Whichever way you turn your pyramid, here’s how it breaks down:
- The Lead: Grab our attention with a lead that entices us to keep reading or listening. Make it brief. Include the who, what, where, when and why of your story. Include a hook to attract our attention.
- The Body: Explain the details of your story. The body of your story fills in the details you promised to tell us about in your lead.
- The Tail: Wrap it up with anything else you want us to know and/or a summary of the body of your story. Don’t wait until the end to make your main point or most of your audience won’t see it.
Starting with your most important information serves two purposes. A good lead grabs the attention of your audience. And by making your most important point first you’ve delivered your most important message to people who don’t read the rest of what you say.
In the old days of lead type, newspaper reporters were told to put their least important information at the bottom of their stories because when a story had to be shortened the folks laying out the pages in the composing room started yanking lines of type from the bottom and worked their way up until the story fit the space available for it.
But there’s another reason for starting with your most important information. Surveys consistently show 85 percent or more of newspapers readers (if there are any left) skim headlines and read a sentence or two of the stories that interest them.
That’s how people read other information, too, particularly online. If you don’t make your main point right away, most of us will miss it.
That’s my two cents’ worth. What’s yours?
Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist. He specializes in helping clients develop the content they need to tell their stories. He also helps them develop strategies for getting their stories heard, understood and remembered. And he provides media training and presentation coaching for clients who need to tell their stories to reporters or in front of an audience. 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.
Listen to Jerry’s Tips for Telling Your Story every Tuesday at 10:05 a.m., Mountain Time, on the Experience Pros Radio Show on KLZ 560AM in Denver or at www.560thesource.com on the Internet. Missed it on the air? Listen to the archived tips.