Start Your Video Story with a Strong Open: A Poynter Tutorial

Course Overview

Start Your Video Story with a Strong Open: A Poynter Tutorial
Video Tutorial
Time Estimate:
Seven minutes

About Video Tutorials

In a video tutorial, Poynter faculty teach tightly focused lessons on key journalism skills. Loaded with practical examples and instruction, each tutorial gives you tools you can put to work for you right away.

Viewers and readers are restless. They can graze, surf and flip through so many choices that you have to snag them with your first sentence or they're gone.

Good leads are not about using clever or tricky language. Engaging story openings are not about scaring people. To draw viewers and readers into your story, you need to tell them why they should care.

In this seven-minute video lesson, Poynter's Al Tompkins will show you how to use your lead to connect with your audience and keep them from moving on. Using examples from TV news stories, he will show you what works -- and what doesn't. You'll also see how some simple editing can immediately improve the opening for almost any story.

What Will I Learn:
  • How to use conflict and surprise to write a strong story open
  • How to transform worn-out leads into openings that connect with your audience
  • The essential elements for effective leads

This video lesson is part of Telling Memorable Stories: A Poynter Tutorial Series. You can purchase the individual lesson here or purchase the entire series.

Who should take this course:

Reporters, bloggers, columnists and any writers who want to hook readers and viewers quickly and engage them for the whole story.


Al Tompkins

Al Tompkins is Senior Faculty/Broadcast and Online at The Poynter Institute. He is the author of Aim for the Heart: A Guide for TV Producers and Reporters, which is being used by more than 130 universities' journalism departments around the world., and the Poynter NewsU course Reporting, Writing for TV and the Web: Aim for the Heart. He is also the author of Telling Memorable Video Stories, a video tutorial series at Poynter's NewsU. You can join the more than 10,000 people who follow him on Twitter at @atompkins.

Tompkins has more than 40 years of experience as a journalist, writer and journalism teacher who teaches in seminars at Poynter and workshops and conferences around. He has been a presenter at national conventions for IRE, RTDNA, NABJ, NAHJ, AAJA, Unity, NLGJA, PRNDI and NPPA. Since 1998, he has taught seminars and workshops in 48 states and four countries.

Technical Requirements:

This course requires the Flash Player 8 plug-in. For the highest quality viewing experience, we recommend using Flash 9 or higher.

This course contains audio, so please make sure you have your speakers or headphones on.