This is episode 3 of the Wholegrain Leadership Podcast.
As a leader, you will have a message that you want to communicate to your customers, your staff, the general public. Your message is important to you, so people should remember it. For that, it needs to be “sticky”. If you want to persuade people, you should follow six basic principles that I will explain in this episode.
The principles come from a great book called Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive, and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath. The authors analyzed many ideas and tried to find the magic sauce that made some of them viral, whereas others were quickly forgotten. Interestingly enough, it does not depend on the merits of the idea. Instead, six factors make it likely that people will remember it.
A message should be
- told in stories
The book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die is available as a paperback, ebook, and audiobook.
If you are a leader, you will have a message, something that you want to sell, something that you want to convince people off, something that is important to you or your organization. And ideally you want to make sure that people remember what you have to say. You want to make it sticky, and this is what we’re going to talk about today. How to craft a message that people remember and that is sticky. Stay tuned.
If you have something to say, and I hope you do. Then you want to communicate that to two people in writing or through presentations or whatever other channel you have. Part. More importantly, you also want people to remember what you had to say and this is what we’re going to talk about today. I will introduce you to a wonderful book that I find very, very helpful.
I recommend that a lot, and that entails exactly with this, again, the exact title. It will be found. In the show notes. The book is called Made to Stick, and the subtitle is Why some ideas take hold and others come unstuck. It was written by two people, Chip and Dan Heath. It’s now, I think in its third edition or something like that, and it’s really, really helpful.
What Chip and Dan Heath wanted to find out is, as the subtitle suggests, why some ideas are memorable, they’re repeated, they stay on forever, whereas others get forgotten very quickly. And what is important to note here is that whether something gets remembered or not, it does not really have to do with the value, the objective of, well, you off the idea.
It has to do with other things. So there is a lot of very useful things that somehow don’t get attraction, whereas either very stupid or simply untrue stories that gets told and retold and retold again and they wanted to know or find out how that is or why that is. And they analyze lots of ideas, stories, products, and so on, and try to distill the essence of stickiness and they have come up with a set of very easy factors that I just want to go through with you here in this episode are that you can follow to make whatever you have to say, stickier.
It is an acronym that comes out. It’s called success. And the items or the, the factors that mega messaged sticky are simpleness unexpectedness, whether it’s concrete, it’s credible, it’s emotional, and if it contains or whether it contains stories so that together makes the acronym success. So let’s dive a little bit deeper into some of these items.
And the first one is. In order to be sticky and idea has to be simple, by the way. Simple, not simplistic. That’s a big difference. And often when I work with people, for example, who want to become better at public speaking, some of the things that I often witness is that people make things overly complex.
They have so many great ideas and they want to all put them into this one speech. Or if we’re talking about written something written, they want to all put it into this one book or this one publication. That they’re spreading themselves too thinly and the the main idea or it gets a drown house. So you need to keep things very clear and very simple.
And if you need half an hour to explain your idea, then it’s probably too complex. So always try to focus on the one most important thing that you want to convey. The second one is unexpectedness, and this is has to do with the way our brain is wired, probably since the old ages that we are, what we pay attention to, things that are unexpected, they catch our attention.
So imagine your way to work. It’s probably something that you do every day and you’re doing it mostly on autopilot to the extent that. If you think back to this morning’s commute, maybe you can’t even remember some of the things because it’s the same every day and you’re doing it kind of automatically up until the point that something unexpected happens.
There’s a car crash and the car is cut off, or something unexpected happens, and this is something that we remember for your message. If you can communicate your idea in a way that is unexpected. To the audience, then you can be sure that you will have people’s attention and they will, they will actually listen to you much more attentive.
The third criteria in our stickiness is things have to be concrete, and especially in the business world or in the academic world. A lot of ideas that we have. They are very abstract and sometimes we don’t even realize that because we are very familiar with them. But to other people, they are abstract and numbers are abstract by definition, especially when they’re large.
Nobody can really imagine what a building is. So you have to make sure that wherever you’re talking about. You make it concrete, use examples and other things so that people can visualize things and they can come to life. The third one is you gotta be credible, and that sounds fairly obvious maybe, but of course the more credible you are as the source of information or an idea that.
War people would remember it because they will assume that you know, you’re speaking from a position of authority. So this must be true, and sometimes you have a natural authority or an authority that comes with your office. If you’re a well known professor, for example, for a particular topic, you will have an inbuilt authority to speak about a particular subject.
If you’re the CEO of your company. People will assume that you have authority and you will know your company. So if you’re talking about it, they will assume that you know what you’re talking about. If you don’t have that credibility, you can try to get it. For example, through testimonials. This is something that happens often in advertisement.
If you know some famous people recommend your product, that is an attempt to lend some credibility to buy some credibility from somebody that the advertisers assume will be credible for that kind of product. The next point that is important. Super important is we need emotions. You have to have.
Emotions in your story if you want to be remembered. And again, this has to do something with our fundamental human natures. We are emotional creatures no matter what we may think or how we may behave, especially in the professional context. So again, especially if it’s something abstract. Make it as emotional as you can.
And that may sound a bit cheesy, but it isn’t really, I mean, emotions are a good thing. They can be very healthy and they can be very uplifting. So things like hope or you know, joy, things like that, good positive emotions, they can be very, very helpful. Of course, you can also work with negative emotions, inciting fear, for example, in your audience.
That is also an emotion. And that will also work. And then finally, this is really, really important. Can’t stress this enough, is you have to use stories. Storytelling is fundamentally important, so fundamentally important that I will revisit this topic probably a number of times in this podcast. When you communicate, no matter whether it’s the speech that you’re giving, something that you’re writing, like an op ad, or even when you’re just having a normal business meeting or you’re talking to clients and so on and so forth.
Always use stories. No matter what we say, no matter how we behave, we all laugh stories from the kind of old ages where our emphasis, we’re sitting around the campfire and somebody would tell us a story. That’s how we live. And by the way, this is also how we communicate in an informal setting. If you were measuring yourself with your family or in a circle of friends, and you know your
Talking to each other, you’re having a conversation, you will probably talk in stories. So one person will tell you something that they have experienced, and then somebody else will come in with another story. So it’s the natural way of communicating. Just for some weird reason. When we get to professional contexts, we tend to forget these things and we concentrate on dry bullet points with very abstract lingo.
Once again, these are the different six different criteria that you can apply to make your message stick. Be simple, be unexpected, be concrete, be credible, be emotional, and use stories. And the way I see this and the way I recommend this to other people is that you can imagine each of these six. As like little sliders, and it’s not a matter of either, or, this is not binary.
Either you have it or you don’t. But the idea is that if you should try whatever you have to communicate to move the sliders on each of these six dimensions as much as you can into the right direction. And sometimes that won’t be easier. Sometimes it will be more difficult. That depends on the context, the audience, and a gazillion of other things, how much time you have.
But the idea is that even if it’s just a tiny bit into the right direction, you will ensure that the message that you have to convey. Has a higher chance of sticking with your audience. And again, I will put the book title in the show notes so you can look it up. I absolutely recommend this book. It’s very well written.
So the two authors, they took their own medicine basically is very well written in a sticky way. It’s an easy read with lots of interesting stories, funny episodes that they have in there. So it’s absolutely. Worth buying this book and you will greatly profit from that by becoming more sticky.