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What happens when you finish a presentation? What happens to your words and ideas? Are they carried in the hearts and minds of your audience out into the world or are they instantly forgotten?

As presenters we want to give our words and ideas a long life and a good way to do this is to use Chip and Dan Heath’s SUCCESs model to burn your ideas into your audience’s minds.

The SUCCESs model defines the six elements that your speech should have to make it memorable:

  1. Simple – Your message should have one and only one message, it should be clear to the audience what your message is.
  2. Unexpected – You need to surprise your audience because they’re more likely to remember something that  is unexpected. Think about it, when you talk about your day in work, do you tell people about all the normal everyday things that happened or do you tell people about the unplanned, the unexpected? We tend to remember better that which surprises us, like the twist in a movie or book, or the time your sister fell off her bike and broke her tooth. In order to make your message memorable, you need to surprise your audience. Subway’s Jared story is a perfect example of this with its memorable illogic – “He lost weight by eating fast food? That’s impossible!”
  3. Concrete – Make it real and tangible for your audience, add details because details help them to imagine better what you are trying to tell them, the more you help your audience imagine, the more likely they are to remember.
  4. Credible – In order to make us believe in the message, we need to make it credible, and we can do this in a number of ways, we can use experts (scientists, engineers, doctors), we can use people that our audience look up to or find inspiring (celebrities, respected public figures, speakers) or we can use someone that has shared our problem and has found a way to solve it, a real person, just like us.
  5. Emotion – A great way to get people to remember your message is to get them emotionally involved, make them care, make them angry, make them want to do something as a result of hearing your message. We can do this with stories but we also need to make the story’s hero someone that the audience can emotionally relate to – a girl suffering from malnutrition who could be their daughter, niece or friend, or a man who has money problems, we all know someone like that, we can relate to their problems and their situation.
  6. Story – Think about when you were a child and how effective the story about “the boy who cried wolf” was as a lesson to you, would your parents telling you not to lie have been as effective? We love stories, they involve us, they spark our imagination, they help us remember.

 

This book is all about how to get your message across clearly and effectively and it does exactly that. It takes the six principles of its SUCCESs model (Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotion, Stories) and applies them effectively throughout the book. But where it comes out strongest is in its use of Principal 6 (Stories) as each point they make is illustrated by a collection of well-chosen stories.

The stories are great, the type of stories that stick in your mind. There’s one about how one teacher explained racism to a class of young children after the death of Martin Luther King by dividing them into blue eyes and brown eyes and treating each group differently and that lesson was so powerful for the class that they all remember it 30 or 40 years later and it’s a story I won’t forget anytime soon.

Their message is simple and clear and the way they get it across is both thoughtful and entertaining. Definitely a book worth reading for anyone who wants to become a better presenter and speaker.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die – Chip Heath & Dan Heath

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