Don't Bury the Lead

The term "don't bury the lead" is a term used in both copy writing and journalism. In simple terms, it means get to your point as quickly as possible. And more specifically, make your point within the first two sentences of your written communication. Why is this important? Because you don't want the point of your communication, the most important part of what you're writing, to get lost in other, lesser important, details. Too often, people feel the need to use unnecessary words and stories, in an attempt to grab attention or make their entire message more interesting.

Here's the problem with that: the point of your communication is lost. No one will ever see it. People will get so lost and/or bored with your extra fluff in words, they will quit reading before you make your point. Don't bury the lead!

If you insist on using stories, illustrations, or long paragraphs when writing, here are some tips to keep in mind so you don't bury the lead:

  • Within the first few sentences of your communication, state your point clearly, and either bold it or underline it so it stands out.
  • Try using bullet points or numbers to list other important facts so the eyes don't get lost in large paragraphs and miss the point you are trying to make.
  • Send yourself a draft before you send the final copy to others. Then, look at it on your mobile device. Keep in mind, most people use their smart phones to read emails, so if it looks too cumbersome to you, it definitely will to them. Rewrite your email until your main point is obvious when reading it on a smart phone.

This has been some of the more helpful advice given to me when drafting emails of importance to large groups of people. I hope it's helpful to you too.