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On being heard

When you hear your father call something “cool”, coolness loses its punch.

Ah, the pleasure of a well-written book.

Chip and Dan Health prescribe a formula for ‘sticky’ ideas, or just good communication that the audience can understand, remember and act on. This formula is represented in the easy mnemonic: SUCCES (without the second s) which stands for Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, Stories. They demonstrate the effectiveness of their formula by applying it in their book.

  • Their premise is compact and meaningful: SUCCES is a tool to produce sticky ideas
  • They break the text with well-chosen anecdotes, exercises and case studies. They capture attention with teaser texts, draw the reader in, and do not disappoint. Most sections end with an intriguing description of what is in the next section, such as this:
A teacher from Iowa named Jane Elliott once designed a message so powerful – tapping into so many different aspects of emotion and memory – that, twenty years later, her students still remember it vividly.
  • They do not speak in abstract terms, rather involve the reader, do not over use statistics, and make the text totally relatable
  • Their ‘stories’ are from Journal articles, newspapers, and books. These are clearly real stories, used very well.
  • They appeal to a whole range of emotions, mainly staying likeable, relatable and pointing out ‘see this stuff works – see for yourself’, which also adds to their credibility. They make you care by telling you how easy it can be to be a better communicator, that it does not require inborn creativity, and that folk from all walks of life – teachers, evangelists, and flight attendants have unconsciously used these principles to be heard and remembered.
  • Their whole book is essentially a collection of stories, relevant stories, which stay in your head long after you’ve finished the book.
I actually took notes, and think I can put this stuff to good use – in a job interview, when coming up with a health communication design, teaching my son a concept, or even writing a little something.

I’d love to borrow a term that the Heath Brothers, Chip and Dan, use to describe themselves. Idea Collectors. I think and hope that each one of us, in our own way, is an idea collector. I certainly think I am one.

 

 

 

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