The Heath brother's Dan and Chip have laid out a simple acronym to apply when presenting an idea that needs to stick. The acronym is SUCCESS.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die is true to it's title. When presenting ideas we often get caught up in expert speak, we present the details, the facts, the information but often leave our audience disengaged and uncertain about our message.

Days, hours or even minutes after we have presented, our audience may struggle to recall the crux of our message.

Made to Stick takes a look at why some messages stick better than others and distills the learning's down to the SUCCESS formula. A convenient acronym for important elements to incorporate into a presentation or writing to ensure that your key message is understood and stays with the audience long after it was presented to them.

The SUCCESS acronym stands for:

  • Simple
  • Unexpected
  • Concrete
  • Credible
  • Emotional
  • Stories

"If you say three things, you are saying nothing", distill the main idea down to the core compact concept and the Commander's Intent are the keys to keeping a message Simple. Avoid conflating a message with multiple arguments and positions, the simplest proverbs are the most memorable.

Provoke curiosity and avoid the obvious when presenting information or stories about your idea. It is often the stories or facts that surprise us, that stick with us. Ensure your message is presented in a way that it is unexpected to the audience.

There is nothing worse than an idea or message that is abstract and unrelatable. Memorable messages are presented in terms that the audience understands, they are tangible, descriptive, avoid biases and are unambiguous. They are concrete messages. Ensure your message is concrete for the audience.

Facts and statistics are important. Your message has to be credible. Supported by authorities and anti-authorities. When presenting this information, avoid presenting just the numbers and information, provide vivid details, present facts and statistics that are testable by the audience, create an impact, show underlying relationships and compare data to enhance the impact. Try and find a statement that fulfills the "Sinatra Test". A statement such as, "If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere".

An emotional link is also important. Avoid provoking the analytical mind. Appeal to peoples values and self images, use influences in the community and social aspects to stimulate emotion. People are wired to feel for tangible things, not facts and figures.

Being able to link it all with a story that stimulates the imagination and provides further context. Allow your audience a way to relate.

By incorporating elements of the SUCCESS method into the presentation of an idea, you should be left with something that is memorable, something that is sticky. Much of the formula presented by the Heath brothers is backed by studies in psychology and builds on a lot of other theory done in the subject. For this reason, I look forward to being able to put it to use soon.

Made to Stick Mind Map

This article was first noted down on the 6th of September, 2015.