National Storytelling Week: The Beginning

Elizabeth Okoh

01 Feb 2022

Storytelling is an essential part of our culture as a species. It helps us to connect with other people across time, space and even reality (cue the metaverse currently on the horizon). 

The history of a people is told by the person who wields the pen after all. So, it’s no wonder that the work of writers – whether the great Shakespeare or our humble selves in Harvard’s Content & Editorial team – remains as important as ever.  

What’s equally as important is ‘the beginning’ of any story. The first few sentences often determines whether your audience will carry on reading or click the ‘X’ button to close the browser.  

So, for National Storytelling Week, I present to you three ways to start your marketing copy off strong, hook your reader in and inspire action. 


The beginning of your copy should be relevant to the point of the piece. A brilliant piece of marketing copy focuses on a specific pain point, goal, or desire of the target audience. And even if there are other relevant pain points, centre your copy on one particular challenge. You don’t want to overwhelm your reader or confuse them as to the next course of action.  


The beginning of any piece should use words that grabs the reader’s attention and compels them to carry on. Depending on the tone of voice being used, the first sentence can be witty, intriguing, or straight to the point. Whatever style is being implemented, captivate the audience’s imagination through evocative prose. 


A good first sentence or opening paragraph should inform the reader as to what they can expect from the content. It gives you an opportunity to stun the reader with promises of what you’re about to divulge – whether it be a great opportunity, an important message or ground-breaking invention by your brand. An overview of the topic or a significant piece of relevant research can be used to introduce the content to the readers. Whatever you decide to start with, the beginning of your copy sets the context for all that is to come – so make it count.