Sunday, October 17, 2010
Who Defines Stickiness?
• The natural tendency to bury the lead – to hide (usually unintentionally) what the real point is.
• A focus on the presentation rather than the message. The forms of a slide show, a formal speech, or a press release are not what should determine what you’re trying to say.
• Decision paralysis – when you have too much choice ot the situation is ambiguous.
• The “Curse of Knowledge” – where you confuse how you arrived at your idea or message and confuse it with how to communicate it. In other words, you communicate it like you were the audience (more on that word in a bit).
A good example the Heaths cite is that tool that has done more to destroy communicate than aything else in the modern era: PowerPoint. “Business managers,” they write, “seem to believe that, once they’ve clicked through a PowerPoint presentation showcasing their conclusions, they’ve successfully communicated their ideas. What they’ve done is share data.”
The point of all this is simple: don’t treat the people you’re trying to communicated with as an audience.
I wrote a paper on this once. I said that, for communication purposes and any other purpose, for that matter, employees are not an audience. No one you’re trying to communicate with is an audience. The word assumes a passive group of people who will listen and “get educated” or be entertained. A group of people watching a movie in a theater is an audience; a person watching a television show may be part of an audience. The person sitting in a conference room listening to you talk, the person in a large hall listening to you speak, or the people joining you for lunch are not an audience. Instead, they are people you’re trying to communicate with, perhaps build a relationship with or become part of a community with.
But they are anything but passive. And today they’re often tweeting what you’re saying while you say it, and offering their own commentary in the process.
(By the way, I wrote in my paper that “message,” as in “my message points,” also should be tossed on the trash heap of bad communications.)
Ultimately, it is the people you’re trying to communicate with who will define stickness. Understanding them, their needs, their desires, and how best to talk with them will make what you’re saying stick or be ignored as superfluous.
Laura Boggess has been leading a discussion of Made to Stick at The High Calling. Last weels discussion on stories can be found here.
The posts in this series:
On Simple: The One Time Something I Did Went Viral
On Unexpected: Singing Opera in Journalism Class
On Credible: As Concrete – as Air
On Concrete: It Was All in the Numbers
On Emotional: An Engineer Got Emotional
On Stories: The Sticky Stories of Billy Coffey