The attention-getter is designed to intrigue your audience and to motivate them to read your essay. There are infinite possibilities for attention-getting devices. Some of the more common devices include using a story, a rhetorical question, or a quotation. While any of these devices can be effective, it is important for you to spend time strategizing, creating, and practicing the attention-getter.
Most importantly, an attention-getter should create curiosity in the minds of your readers and convince them that your essay will be interesting and useful. The wording of your attention-getter should be refined and practiced. Be sure to consider the mood/tone of your essay; determine the appropriateness of humor, emotion, aggressiveness or reason. Not only should the words get your audience’s attention, but your choice of words should be smooth and confident to let the reader know that you are a skilled writer who has something worthwhile to say.
An anecdote or story serves to engage the audience and causes them to think about the situation you are describing. Touching stories or stories that make audience members feel involved with the topic
Example: The crowd was wild. The music was booming. The sun was shining. The cash registers were ringing. It was my fist time at an outdoor concert, and I felt like throwing up. Rhetorical questions are questions designed to arouse curiosity without requiring an answer. Either the answer will be obvious, or if it isn't apparent, the question will arouse curiosity until the presentation provides the answer
Example: Have you ever heard of a railroad with no tracks, with secret stations, and whose conductors were considered criminals?
Quotation: A quotation from a famous person or from an expert on your topic can gain the attention of the audience. The use of a quotation immediately focuses the audience on your topic area. Remember to integrate and/or set up your quote.
Example: Mark Twain once said that “no good deed goes unpunished.”
Unusual statement: Making a statement that is unusual, weird or shocking to the ears of your listeners is another possibility for gaining their attention.
Example: Going to prison was the best thing that ever happened to my friend Jerry.
Humor: You might chose to use tasteful humor which relates to the topic as an effective way to attract the reader to the subject at hand.
Example: How do you keep an English teacher from drowning in a shallow pool of water? Take your foot off his neck.
Shocking Statistic: Another possibility to consider is the use of a factual statistic intended to grab the reader’s attention. As you research the topic you've picked, keep your eyes open for statistics that will have impact.
Example: Out of every hundred dollars spent on education in the U. S., twenty-five dollars go to special ed and two cents go to gifted programs.
Practice: Choose two of these techniques and write an attention getter and a thesis that could go with it. Feel free to make things up if you want. The important thing is to practice. Underline the thesis. Example: A 1962 Gallup poll showed that 76% of Americans thought that war with Soviet Russia was inevitable, yet by the early 1990’s the Soviet Union had collapsed. Scientific polls are taken every day, yet do they really tell us anything? Polling is often misleading, inaccurate and leads to misconceptions.