Open with a story hook.

When Ryan Holiday wrote The Obstacle Is The Way, he was very swift with his openings. Every chapter began with an opening anecdote.

Here are a few:

“By age twelve, Theodore Roosevelt had spent almost every day of his short life struggling with horrible asthma.”

“Tommy John, one of baseball’s most savvy and durable pitchers, played twenty-six seasons in the majors.”

“Once as the Athenian general Pericles cast off on a naval mission in the Peloponnesian War, the sun was eclipsed and his fleet of 150 ships was cast into darkness.”

Each one of these opening statements is a story hook, immediately grabbing your attention. After you are hooked, the author uses the story as an analogy to demonstrate his point.

When you communicate with your audience online, get their attention immediately. Start your message with an opening anecdote, and keep your audience’s attention by telling an interesting story.

I was recently watching a professional public speaker’s new video on YouTube, and 45 seconds in, I still didn’t know what the video was about.

All I knew for sure was how this guy felt about his video.

“I’m so excited to be speaking to you through this medium.”
“Thank you so much for tuning in to my daily video message.”
“I’m thrilled that you are here to watch this,” he said in a monotone.
And on.
And on.

At the one minute mark, I closed the video, and thought about the importance of openings.

If he had opened his video with an anecdote, or story, or hook, I would have stayed watching much longer. Humans are story-consuming creatures, and we have remarkably short attention spans on the Internet.

We want to know what happens next, how it happens, and how it all ends.

Or else, we are on to the next thing.

Keep this in mind the next time you compose something for your audience.

What is your opening hook? How can you immediately demand attention? What story can you start with?

Stories are the currency of our attention. Start with a strong story to capture and direct attention where you will.