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Field Notes #071: Get to the Point (Cut the Fluff)

Field Notes #71 Writing with Impact- Streamlining Introductions for Effective Communication

In 2018, I wrote a straightforward guide to email outreach

One of my core tips was “don’t beat around the bush.” 

I’d get a long email – several paragraphs – with interludes of flattery, fluff, and commentary. 

And I couldn’t even tell what the hell the person emailing me actually wanted.

Introduction-less Content

Gaetano DiNardi wrote a LinkedIn post praising “introduction-less content.” His quote:

“Most B2B content has longggggg winded intros — loaded with out of context statistics and SEO filler fluff that no one cares about. 

“Time to answer” is the most underrated SEO factor.”

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Before I even knew anything about SEO, I was trained in this style of writing. I worked with Peep Laja at CXL, and as my editor, he would always send back a draft with redlines through the entire intro. 

He would leave the same comment every time:

“Get to the point.” 

Clearing your throat

Tommy Walker refers to this as the writer “clearing their throat.” The intro essentially serves as their writing warm up, and tends to be filled with mediocre content. 

You’ll still have to write it, but make sure you edit it out before publishing. It’s for you, not for the audience. 

Reverse Skyscraper

It used to be the case that skyscraper content won the SERPs.

If I wrote a list of “36 Conversion Optimization Best Practices,” you would have to one-up me and write “39 Conversion Rate Optimization Best Practices.” 

Comprehensiveness was a proxy for quality, and it resulted in an absurd Fisherian runaway where the lack of curation made this type of content all but useless for the reader. 

That’s changing.

You can still be comprehensive, but more than ever, people want signal and not the noise. ChatGPT is training users further that the answer is right there. No need to wade through a bunch of high level H2s like “what is [keyword]” and “why is [keyword] important.” 

Executive summaries do a great job if you still want or need to write a comprehensive piece. 

Otherwise, just cut your introduction in half. 

Same goes for presentations and slide decks. Sure, it has to be a story. But you have to catch someone’s attention in the first few seconds or minutes. Put the details in the appendix. 

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Alex Birkett

Alex is a co-founder of Omniscient Digital. He loves experimentation, building things, and adventurous sports (scuba diving, skiing, and jiu jitsu primarily). He lives in Austin, Texas with his dog Biscuit.