infographic: Ideas that STICK

ImageI recently read this book by Chip & Dan heath, on how to make the ideas we speak about “Sticky” – memorable. The book contained some well thought out ideas for communication that I intend to revisit in the “packaging” aspects of my sermon writing. As with any attempt at being persuasive, one always needs to guard against being manipulative. If we fail to LOVE OTHERS, or LOVE the TRUTH with our ideas, the whole point to our speaking is undermined: we’ll end up being nothing more than a noisy gong (that is an example of point 3 below).

In reading these kind of books I often forget the details. So I’ve whipped up an infographic to remind me. Below it is an explanation of each key point.


Here are some quotes from the book to fill out the bare bones of the infographic above:

1. Sticky ideas are SIMPLE IDEAS. Simple does not mean simplistic. We need to find the essential core of our ideas. To strip an idea down to its core, we must be masters of exclusion. We must relentlessly prioritize. Saying something short is not the mission – sound bites are not the ideal. Proverbs are the ideal. We must create ideas that are both simple and profound. The Golden Rule is the ultimate model of simplicity: a statement so profound that an individual could spend a lifetime learning to follow it.


2. Sticky ideas reveal GAPS in our knowledge that provoke/stimulate engagement. “Surprise” can grab people’s attention, but not hold it for very long. We can engage people’s curiosity over a longer period of time by systematically “opening gaps” in their knowledge – and then filling in those gaps.


3. Sticky ideas are CONCRETE ideas. We must present our ideas in terms of “physical” or “sensory experience” :  concrete concepts, images or metaphors. For example, in proverbs, abstract truths are often encoded in concrete language: “A bird in the Hand is worth two in the bush.” This proverb is much more memorable than saying “Having one of something in your immediate possession is of equal value to possessing two of something which you can’t access.”


4. Sticky ideas are CREDIBLE ideas.  Ideas will stick in people’s heads far more easily if people are able to mentally assess their usefulness or reasonableness.


5. Sticky ideas are AFFECTIVE: they give us a targeted reason to CARE about them (not the same as simply being emotive). People are more likely to make a charitable gift to a single needy individual than to an entire impoverished region. We are wired to feel things for people, not for abstractions. We need to consider what moves people. For instance, it is difficult to get teenagers to quit smoking by instilling in them fear of the consequences, but it’s easier to get them to quit by tapping into their resentment of the duplicity of Big Tobacco.


6. Sticky ideas can be MENTALLY REHEARSED. Mentally rehearsing a situation helps us perform better when we encounter that situation at a later date. Relating your idea in the context of a story or posing hypothetical situations act as a kind of mental flight simulator: they help us habituate the new idea in our thinking processes.



8 thoughts on “infographic: Ideas that STICK

  1. steve freddo says:

    Sure thing Jonathan. Not sure about how to reblog as such – go ahead if you can 🙂

    You can post the URL as well of course – maybe on Canterbury Facebook page?

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