Chip Heath

Seeds Conference 2014 – Chip Heath on Communication

Photo Credit: Andy Barron

I realize I’ve been talking a lot about the Seeds Conference lately, but I was fortunate to capture a lot of wisdom, so I thought I would pass it along.  Chip Heath, author of Made to Stick, talked about communicating ideas.  I’ve never read the book before, I’m in the process of reading it right now.  Let me just say, if you haven’t read it or heard it yet and you are into communication in anyway – you should definitely read it.  Chip is a professor at Stanford and studies marketing/political/idea campaigns and tries to explain how some work and how some don’t work.  I found his talk fascinating, here are some of the things I learned from his talk:

  • Researchers did a study with a group of people tapping a beat of a song, and they measured if listeners could tell what song they were tapping.  The tappers thought that the listeners would guess the songs 50% of the time.  In reality, they only guessed the song 3% of the time.  This phenomenon is called the “curse of knowledge” – when we know something really well- it’s hard to imagine what people will  think that don’t know.
  • If you want to communicate well you have to imagine what it’s like to not know what you know
  • Sticky means: Understood, Remembered, Changes Something (act, decisions)
  • Principle characteristics of sticky ideas:
  1. Simple
  2. Unexpected
  3. Concrete
  4. Credible
  5. Emotional
  6. Stories

On Unexpected:

  • To get attention you have to break a schema
  • Example: Surfer-Nobel prize winner
  • Your role is to move beyond common sense – to uncommon sense and you will create a conversation

On Concrete:

  • Brings emotion
  • Makes the story relatable
  • Invokes a “flight simulation” of the idea for the listener, because they have an understanding of what something should be

On Emotional

  • Can you make people care?
  • Consequence based change vs identity based change
  • Your role – find the identity that people care about

On Stories

  • Stories are flight simulators for the brain
  • Springboard stories – if you tell a story- people run the flight simulator
  • Tell a story to inspire action!

Do’s vs Dont’s:

  • Simple vs complex
  • Concrete vs abstraction
  • Emotion vs identity

Don’t let the curse of knowledge get in the way of your message

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