5 good ways to start a persuasive essay
The introduction paragraph of a persuasive essay is the single most important paragraph of your entire essay. If you can’t get readers through the door you have no chance at all of changing their opinion on your topic and lose the opportunity to influence their first opinion with your stance. In your introduction paragraph you need something to get the reader’s attention, good supporting explanation and a strong tie into an excellent thesis sentence.. In this essay I am going to focus on the Attention-Getter (AG). There are 5 main types of Attention Getters; I have listed their types and a brief description for you below.
- Shocking Statistic: A shocking statistic will serve to engage your reader immediately. It works by giving them a new or interesting piece of information that draws them in because they want you to explain what it is that you are saying. A good “shocking statistic” is interesting and engaging. It should “hit home” with your audience and encourage them to read more. Avoid using “shotty” or unbelievable statistics. You need something that you can back up or your essay will be discredited as a result even if everything you said was well-researched and structurally sound. The fine line between interesting and unbelievable is sometimes difficult to distinguish, so be careful with this method.
- Anecdote: This type of AG revolves around starting your essay with a story that relates strongly to your essay topic. People are often engaged on an emotional level and for topics that might appeal to this style would be served well with an anecdote AG. The story should be short and concise, no more than 2 or 3 sentences really. Sometimes it is hard to describe a story in so little space, if this is the case it is probably better to go a different route. Try to engage your reader, but we are not here for story time, we need to express an argument. Stay on topic.
- Question: A question is another type of AG that engages your reader by making them think about your topic. Avoid “yes” or “no” questions as they can be leading and do not require any thought. A question should be engaging. Try to come up with something that requires more than two sentences to answer. An opinionated reader is a good reader.
- Quotation: There are famous quotes for just about everything these days. Your essay could benefit from a quote as an attention getter if you can find the perfect quote. I don’t usually recommend using a quote because they can often be misleading and are easily taken out of context. An opening quote for an essay should be very short, preferably one line, but no more than 3. You should try to find something by someone who is an expert on or well associated with your topic.
- Humor: I also generally do not suggest this particular method of AG. Humor can be very engaging, however, when used correctly. It is hard to use this in a persuasive essay without taking away from your credibility and the credibility of the essay. Appealing to pathos, or emotion, though, is sometimes the most powerful route. Be engaging, but be respectful and use it sparingly.