Tips for Writing a Good Introduction Paragraph
Not sure how to write an introductory paragraph? Your speech or essay’s introduction paragraph sets the tone, so you want to make sure the audience finds it interesting. You want to give them a reason to continue paying attention. There is no single right way to write an introduction. It really depends on the complexity of the assignment as well as the topic, whether it is intended to be humorous or serious.
Establishing Voice and Point of View
When writing introductory paragraphs, you should first decide whether to use the first- or third-person. The point of view that you choose depends on whether you are speaking about yourself or discussing a topic in general.
- How to write an introductory paragraph in the First-person POV. If the topic of your speech or essay is about something that has happened in your life or has affected you personally, you should use “I” statements. For example, you might say, “In this essay, I will discuss a person in my life who has had the most impact on me.”
- How to write an introductory paragraph in the Third-person POV. You will never refer to yourself when using this POV. Instead, you should utilize a neutral voice that stays focused on facts and description. For instance, “This essay will argue that teenagers who play violent video games are more likely to engage in aggressive behaviors.”
Once you decide which POV you will use in the introduction, you will need to stick to it for the rest of the speech or essay. For example, you should not say, “I think…” in the introduction only to switch to third-person in the body of the paper. The key to successfully writing introductory paragraphs for essays is establishing the voice from the start and maintaining it throughout.
Different Ways to Open Your Essay or Speech
As we continue with strategies for writing an effective introduction, let us now turn to the technique. At this point, you have determined which POV you are going to use. Now you should think about the very first words you will use. Here are some of the most common methods:
- Asking a Question. Asking the audience a question will catch their attention and make the topic relatable to them. For instance, “What goes through your mind as you are taking an important exam?”
- Anecdote. Another technique that allows the audience to relate to you is by telling a very short story that is connected to the topic of your essay or speech. It should not be more than 2 or 3 sentences long, otherwise it will fall flat.
- Quotation. Using a thoughtful or clever quote is a good way to warm up the audience and get them ready to listen or read about your topic. Make sure to give proper attribution to the person you are quoting, using their full name.
- Start small and go large. Start with a statistic that might seem insignificant at first, but then discuss it in larger numbers in order to provide context. For instance, “On average, an American dies of a heart attack once every 37 seconds. For the entire year, this comes out to more than 600,000 deaths.”
- Start large and go small. Start with a statistic that is large, and then narrow it down to a figure that the audience can relate to. “Hunger affects 820 million people across the globe, but even in America we have an unacceptable 37 million people who go hungry every day.”
How to Write an Introduction Paragraph in 3 Simple Steps
STEP 1: TOPIC SENTENCE
As a rule, every paragraph should begin with a topic sentence. In the case of the introduction, it is especially important because it gives the audience or reader a taste of what has to come for the rest of the essay or speech. It should give the audience a reason to pay attention. As mentioned above, this could come in the form of an intriguing quote, a question, or a shocking statistic that highlights the significance of the problem. You could make a statement like, “The most serious addiction in America is not heroin or cigarettes, but alcohol…” Another way you can phrase it is like, “There are serious social stigmas associated with smoking or doing hard drugs, and yet alcohol – the drug that causes the most problems in society – is actually celebrated.” The topic sentence serves as the foundation for the rest of your work.
STEP 2: GIVE MORE DETAILS
You want the introduction to give the reader or audience just enough information about what you are going to discuss without giving away too much. Just briefly describe the topic and give a bit of background. The body of your work is where you will go into more detail about the topic. For instance, you have stated that alcohol is the most serious drug even though it is associated with having a good time. You will then proceed to highlight precisely why it is a problem and how society should actually be perceiving it.
STEP 3: CONCLUSION SENTENCE
The last sentence of your introduction paragraph should be the thesis statement that you will then support through the rest of the speech or paper. You might state it like, “Although alcohol causes serious problems for society, it is something that is celebrated. This essay will discuss the reasons why alcohol is associated with positive things even though it causes so much ruin and despair.” You should feel free to articulate yourself well, but you want to avoid using clichés or get your tongue twisted in knots by explaining something in too complex of a way.
Writing the introduction can be a stressful, pressure-filled exercise, but if you follow these three important steps, you stand a good chance of getting the grades you want!
The Dos and Don’ts of Writing an Introduction
There is no universal template for writing an introduction paragraph. The approach you take will depend on the subject matter and the reader/audience. However, here are some effective tips that good introductions do follow:
- Do keep the introduction paragraph brief. While the length can vary, as a rule you should keep it to three or four sentences maximum.
- Do be deliberate in your word choices. Since your introduction needs to be short, you should avoid filler words and meaningless mumbo jumbo. Keep it clean and crisp. You want to catch the audience’s attention right away.
- Do consider cutting out that first sentence. In many cases, the first sentence serves as your warm-up shot. Delete it and see if it makes a difference. The result might actually make your introduction better.
- Do not hype yourself too much. You do not want to promise the audience that they will learn something extraordinary and life changing only to deliver a dud.
- Do consider writing the body and conclusion first before writing the introduction. This might sound counterintuitive, but building an introduction around what you have written in the rest of the paper can actually create more cohesion.
Of course, you should always proofread and edit your introduction. Never underestimate the quality of a polished introduction since it can make or break the entire essay or speech!