A huge part of my job involves reading actuarial and insurance-industry-related articles. Mic drop: If that sentence doesn’t hook 999 out of 1000 readers, I don’t know what will.
But anyway, virtually all of these articles are written by people who have three universal things in common:
- They are super smart
- They aren’t professional writers
- Their articles receive little to no editing before publishing
These three traits lead to a number of structural problems in most articles that I don’t want to nitpick now, but one of the most common (and easiest to fix) is the introduction problem.
The introduction problem
The introduction problem, put simply, is the objective fact that introductions in shortish 3–5 page newsletter articles are universally terrible, if they exist at all. But the irony is that the introductions really do exist. They just end up in the last paragraph of the article in a section that’s usually called “Conclusion.”
The typical conclusion section of an unedited article is something the author wrote very last, meaning the author wrote it at the point when he or she had finally figured out what they wanted to say by writing the preceding words of the body.
In almost every case, a “conclusion” paragraph can be cut and pasted to the beginning of the article—completely overriding the original introduction—with almost no additional editing at all.
Why am I talking about this?
People don’t have a lot of time these days, and editing resources are increasingly scarce. If you’re asked to write something for a newsletter or industry publication (in any field), try moving your conclusion to the introduction after you write your thing. It will make your article significantly more accessible and relevant from the moment time-pressed readers lay eyes on it.
See what I mean? If I had just put that paragraph first, wouldn’t this have been a better and shorter blog post?