What happens if you're reading something ten pages long and the main point is not up front? I think most of us get confused and frustrated, so we skip to the end and hunt for it. Once we find it, we can usually start over and understand the document much better. With the context of the bottom line, the details up front start to make more sense to us.
So why do writers often put the main point at the end? Here are some common reasons I've heard:
• to make readers read the entire document
• to build the case so readers will more likely accept the main point
• to reenact how the writer learned something
Those reasons all sound good, don't they? The problem is, as I've already noted, most readers simply don't put up with that order. We'll stop reading, skip to the end, get the bottom line, and then (if the writer's lucky), start in again at the top.
Even bad news should normally come early. You don't necessarily make it the first sentence: "You're fired." But that kind of news shouldn't follow a page and a half of the company's financial situation, either, should it?
Also, with bad news, tone becomes extremely important. You probably want to say something with a less rude tone than: "You're fired."
There are a number of ways to deliver the same message with a polite tone, and that message needs to be earlier rather than later.
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