Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Made to Stick - Reading Notes

This post is a summary of the book Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath.


I first wrote about Made to Stick: Why ideas survive and others die in March, 2011. I later included the book on a list of paradigm-changing books in 2015.

The notes below are from my 2011 journal. I have been reviewing my journals for blog post ideas, and I thought this would be a good follow-up to the initial book review.

Chapter 1 - Simple


  • Have one core message stated at the outset.
  • Avoid decision paralysis - don't focus on all options.
  • The message should be compact - like proverbs.
  • Using existing knowledge, add new information with comparison (new movie ideas are compared to other movies).
  • Use metaphors.


Chapter 2 - Unexpected


  • Get people's attention (surprise) and keep it (interest).
  • Expose the part of your message that is "uncommon sense" (surprise, unexpected, twist).
  • Create mystery to sustain attention (for example, wherever there are questions without obvious answers, unexpected journeys).
  • Curiosity is created whenever there is a knowledge gap.
  • Ideas should be provocative but not paralyzing.


Chapter 3 - Concrete


  • Life is not abstract.
  • Concrete language helps people, especially novices, understand new concepts.
  • Teachers take an existing schema and overlay a new layer of abstraction.
  • Concrete is memorable.
  • The more concrete the illustration, the better (more memorable). If an idea can connect with multiple areas of mental processing, the more "sticky" it will be.
  • Simulation is preferred to illustration.
  • Use props because they encourage brainstorming and comprehension.
  • Use specific examples rather than abstract statements.
  • "What the world needs is more fables."


Chapter 4 - Credible


  • Anti-authority - tell stories using real people, situations, and examples.
  • Remember the power of details - specific details make a claim real and more believable.
  • Translate statistics into meaningful, understandable units (1 out of 3 people in the U.S. vs 100,000,000 people in the U.S.).


Chapter 5 - Emotional


  • Focus on the individual - not the population.
  • When presented with charitable needs in Africa, people who read statistics gave less than those who read about a specific child.
  • Feeling and calculating are processed differently with different behaviors.
  • Semantic stretch occurs when an idea is overused (the word "unique" is no longer special).
  • Get self-interest into every headline or presentation. Spell out the benefit of the benefit. 
  • WIIFY = What's in it for you?
  • If people can imagine themselves doing something, they are more likely to actually do it.


Chapter 6 - Stories


  • Stories provide simulation (knowledge about how to act) and inspiration (motivation to act).
  • Stories let the audience mentally test how they would react - the audience is not passive.
  • Simulating past events is more helpful than predicting outcomes.
  • Mental practice done when visualizing a task from start to finish improves performance significantly. 
  • Mental practice produced two-thirds of the benefits of actual physical practice.
  • Stores put knowledge into a framework that is life-life.
  • "We must fight against the temptation to skip directly to the 'tips' and leave out the story."
  • Always be looking for stories to illustrate your content.
  • In a study, 63% of participants remembers stories, but only 5% statistics.


If you found this summary to be informative, I encourage you to buy the book and create your own notes.

1 comment:


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