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Writing to Win: How to Quickly Capture Readers and Keep Them Engaged

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Writing to Win: How to Quickly Capture Readers and Keep Them Engaged

Think Fast, Talk Smart Podcast

Stanford Business,

5 min read
4 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

To write well, move fast, make your main point and know your audience.

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable
  • Eye Opening
  • For Beginners


Many people think their essays should open with a slow build, but that usually wastes time and space. Instead, open with your most important facts and main point, professor Matt Abrahams and New York Times editor Glenn Kramon advise in this Stanford Business School podcast. Know your audience, sound like who you are and don’t try to impress people by using jargon – half your readers won’t know what it means anyway. People engage with stories that feature concrete characters and rich emotions, not statistics and abstractions. And, if you want to be a writer, keep a daily journal. It’s great practice.


Don’t waste your readers’ time; get to your main point right away.

Many people start emails with empty phrases like, “Hope you are well,” but that’s a waste of your time and your readers’ time. Avoid long preambles. Get to your main idea as fast as you can. Among other things, that shows respect for your readers. Today, people are often in a hurry, and they may just quickly scan their messages on their smartphones; this makes them even more unlikely to read long-winded pieces.

Professors often believe they have to provide a lot of background and argument before they present their conclusions, but all that decoration usually turns out to be unnecessary. State your conclusion – your central point – then back up and show how you arrived at it.

Even if what you write turns out to be linear, your writing process doesn’t have...

About the Podcast

The Stanford Graduate School of Business, where Matt Abrahams teaches strategic communication, produces the Think Fast, Talk Smart podcast. Glenn Kramon has been an editor at The New York Times for more than 30 years.

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