You might as well put your pen down right now if you donít abide by this secret weapon of strong writing.
Your ideas might be carefully articulated, your words eloquently crafted, your message important and urgent Ė but this leads nowhere if your readersí eyes sweep past your words and settle somewhere else instead.
The hook is the element of writing that exists to give you the all-important edge: your readersí attention.
Successful hooks are carefully created with a clear understanding of your audience and what they care about (see last issueís column).
The hook is often seen in your email subject line, in the heading of your document, title of your presentation, or as the first paragraph of your text. It might also be used in sub-headings Ė no need to limit yourself to just one hook.
It can break the mould from the style of writing in the rest of your document Ė itís a chance to be playful, surprising, pose a question. You can make it a teaser or a play on words. One approach is to highlight your documentís most dramatic or compelling fact, statistic or quote. Personal stories are also strong hooks – readers canít help be drawn in by a well-crafted anecdote.
Your hook doesnít need to be central to what youíre writing about, but it must not be misleading: nobody likes click-bait.
Remember, as with all strong writing, your audience is key. Whatever hook you try Ė it must be there because youíve decided that itíll grab your particular audience by the eyeballs.
Anneli Knight is director of Eloquence Consulting and board member of Byron Writers Festival. The next Eloquence business writing workshop is at Elemenets on 6th October.