Improving the “Stickiness” of Your Big Ideas

By July 22, 2010March 30th, 2020Book Reviews
made to stickThe title of this book certainly “stuck” with me over the past few months – it seemed it was being mentioned wherever I went. When I finally picked up my own copy and brought it on a recent flight, I was glad I did. Like a fun, upbeat friend, Made to Stick kept me company during the trip, with content that was at once entertaining, educational and exhilarating.

Accomplished educators and idea collectors Chip and Dan Heath offer up practical, tangible strategies for making your ideas stick – a concept that should resonate with any presenter faced with a high-pressure, high-stakes situation. ~Enjoy, Stephanie

Made to Stick is a book that will likely transform the way you communicate ideas. Here’s just a sampling of some thoughts from the Heath brothers that captured my attention:


Curse of Knowledge

Like sliced bread or indoor plumbing, once we know something, it’s hard to remember life without it. Knowledge is often “cursed” by being taken for granted, and it becomes difficult to share what we know in moderation. In an effort to be complete, we can’t discern the most important information we’d like to leave with our audience, and run the risk of overwhelming them. We keep going…and going…and going, and what sticks? Absolutely nothing. Check out the six principles outlined in Made to Stick that will help you overcome the dreaded Curse of Knowledge.

Velcro® Theory of Memory

Velcro material has two sides: one covered in thousands of tiny hooks, the other in tiny loops. Press the two together, and presto! – they stick. Our memories work the same way, with an infinite number of loops just waiting to cling to an idea with lots of hooks. The more hooks an idea has, the better it sticks. Think about a favorite class where the information presented really “stuck” with you.  What did that instructor do to help Velcro that information to your brain?  When developing your next presentation, stop and ask: How can I add more hooks to my content via interactivity, stories, or stronger visuals?

Human Scale Principle

What’s something we can all do better? Make statistics more human and dynamic. Made to Stick references a 1992 press conference where the Center for Science in the Public Interest revealed that the typical medium-sized buttered popcorn at a neighborhood movie theatre contains more artery-clogging fat than a bacon-and-egg breakfast, lunch of a Big Mac and fries, and a steak dinner with all the trimmings — combined. Certainly something we could easily grasp. Remember: The power is not in the numbers themselves, but rather in their scale and context.

Here’s a nice bonus …

Sprinkled throughout this accessible, quick-reading text are eight “Idea Clinics” filled with practical tips for applying what you’ve read in a fun, realistic way. In completing all eight clinics, I gained some intriguing new insights, while also being reminded of important “sticky” factors that were already on my radar. For example, Made to Stick challenges readers to distill the essence of their message, get back to core principles, and communicate in a memorable way — advice that parallels Professionally Speaking’s own C.O.D.E.® process.

Whether you’re a non-profit, an entrepreneur, or a corporate executive, Made to Stick delivers some terrific tools for improving the way you communicate ideas. In fact, it got me so revved up that I overhauled an upcoming presentation to make it extra sticky!

You know a book’s made a real impact when your copy ends up dog-eared, covered in highlighter, and dotted with margin notes. Hope your copy of Made to Stick ends up the same way!