I just finished reading a remarkable book recommended to me by my speaking coach Darren LaCroix, the 2001 World Champion of Public Speaking. I’m a book freak; I read almost continuously, so I’m always on the lookout for the next great title. This was IT! Anyone in any communication field should read it. Sales, marketing, speaking, teaching, training, parenting…any field where you need to communicate an idea and have it stick…you will find gold in the pages of this book.
The book is “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” by the brothers Chip Heath and Dan Heath. They have roots in the higher education world, and have conducted extensive research into why certain ideas, messages and even myths survive and prosper (ie. “stick”) in our information-saturated culture. It’s a fast and fun read, filled with anecdotes and personalities, showcasing both successes and failures of organizations trying to communicate their messages.
The Heaths summarized 6 common traits in ideas that do indeed stick, and describe them using the acronym “SUCCES” (a sticky trick in itself…I’ll forever remember them this way). For a message to be “sticky” to the audience (or customer, or employee, or whoever…”) it should be:
1. Simple: Know what your core message is.
2. Unexpected: Your audience will notice your message.
3. Concrete: They will understand & remember your message.
4. Credible: They will believe and agree with your message.
5. Emotional:: They will care about your message.
6. Story: They will act on your message.
The book is filled with dozens and dozens of illustrations to expand each of these. For example, they describe how Southwest Airlines wants to be “THE low fare airlines”. Communicating that single core message to their staff is the filter they use to decide day to day what to do and not do. Even though serving a chicken salad sandwich to passengers would be a nice thing and probably appreciated by the passengers, doing so could increase costs, increas fares, and thus violate that basic core of being THE low fare airline.
The book is a powerhouse of information. It confirmed a lot of what I do as a speaker…I love using analogies and metaphors (highly touted in the chapter on Concrete). I am always looking for stories in my life from which to draw lessons (emphasized in the chapter on…guess: STORIES!) But I especially love the research behind the concepts that underscore their validity.
So, check it out. I guarantee you will find a nugget or two to help with your speeches, presentations, sales pitch…whatever you do. This is a GREAT book!