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I will not be spoken to like that!

Last night the 2014 Federal budget was announced. I am not going to spend time analysing the facts and figures, but it is interesting to assess the finance minister, Joe Hockey’s ability to “sell” a very tough budget on national television. As I watched, I could not help but analyse the way in which his speech was structured – warning of the shock and explaining that together as a nation we must all contribute.

How did you feel after the speech was over?

How you “sell” your message to ensure that your listeners understand it, remember it and, more importantly, feel the desired emotion towards it, relies on many factors. In Dan and Chip Heath’s book, Made to Stick, the brothers describe that there a six principles that make your ideas “stickier” than others and that when people throughout history have used these principles their idea, concept or speech gather much more momentum with their desired audience. These ‘sticky’ principles are:

Simple – find the core of what you want people to remember or the one action you want people to make and keep it succinct.

Unexpected – we all form patterns of expectation in our brains (this frees ‘active thinking’ brain resources for the things that require full awareness). Giving an unexpected message will gain the attention of your audience. Richard Branson: “My children and I will be taking our first trip into space on Virgin Galactica in 2014”

Concrete –Delivering your message so that it can be detected by the human senses is what makes your message concrete. It is key to your message being remembered. “Movie popcorn contains 20G of fat” is not as concrete as “Movie popcorn contains more fat than a bacon-and-egg dinner, a Big Mac, and fries for lunch and a steak dinner with all the trimmings – combined.”

Credible – Use real examples, authority figures and stories to give your message reliability & credibility. Create ways in which people can test the credibility themselves.

Emotional – Engage your audience’s empathy and trigger an emotional response through the use of rich and emotive imagery. And emotional response in your listener will make your message more powerful and memorable.

Stories – Stories inspire action. Personalising your message with stories that demonstrate your point creates ‘buy in’ to your message.

The mix of these principles needs to also consider your audience and how they like to have their messaging delivered. Understanding, for example, that as we get older they have a stronger tendency to rely on association to remember messages or that generally women require a higher degree of detail when decision making than men. Understanding your audience allows you to tailor your approach to maximise the stickiness of your message.

Of course, sticky principles don’t only apply to speech making. The psychology of effective message delivery is key when planning an online presence for your business. Understanding your audience and effectively presenting your message can make the difference between a ’nice’ website and one that has the ability to drive your business.

Related Resources:

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die - Dan and Chip Heath
The Buying Brain: Secrets for Selling to the Subconscious Mind - A.K. Prad

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