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Posts Tagged ‘presentations’

I’ve been reading Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath. The book is about how to make your ideas sticky, so that people immediately get them, remember them, and act on them. The Heaths describe 6 ways make your ideas more sticky: simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotion, and stories.

I was reading about their principles as I was preparing for a couple of presentations, thinking about how I can frame things so that a business audience immediately relates to and embraces my ideas. But of course, I’m also constantly conveying new ideas to the monkeys, and it’s equally important that those ideas are sticky.

In fact, the ideas that I’m sharing with the monkeys are even more critical than then ones I share with businesses – they are ideas about how to be in the world: how to be good people, how to get along with others, how to avoid getting hurt, and how to accomplish new tasks. Stickiness is critical if I’m going to get a couple of 2.5 year olds to learn new ideas.

So I’ve been asking myself – what are some things that I do that make ideas sticky for my kids? And how can I do more of it? Over the next few days, I’ll be diving into each of the six ways to make ideas stick, providing examples of how I do it at home, and drawing lessons for work as well.

Lesson 1: SIMPLICITY: Distill your message down into the most basic principles, and reinforce that message over and over and over.

This is one of the hardest principles to follow at work, because the more information that you have, the more you feel that you need to share. We have a hard time letting go of data and information, even if it obscures an argument instead of making it clearer. Moreover, simplicity at work is hard to achieve because it can’t just be about making something rock dumb. It has to be about clarifying the idea, conveying richness and nuance, and still making something easy to understand. No small task.

Simplicity is actually one of the easiest principles to employ with your kids, though. Little people don’t really understand complicated concepts. And they won’t sit still to listen to a 40 page PowerPoint presentation. Kids force you to get mind-numbingly simple if you want to get your point across.

Recently, for example, we had a little incident with scissors. One monkey cut the other monkey’s finger, deeply, with a pair of scissors, resulting in an emergency dash first to the doctor’s office and then to the children’s hospital to see if he needed stitches. Luckily, he didn’t, and he’s just fine now. But the monkeys still beg to use the scissors on a regular basis. And since sitting at the table cutting paper and catalogs can keep them busy for almost half an hour, I really want them to be able to use the scissors.

In order to safely resume cutting with scissors, I had to get a message across. The idea: Scissors can be dangerous if used for the wrong purpose. Cutting people can cause some real damage.  If we’re going to be able to play with scissors, we have to use them safely. It’s not super complicated, but it is a bit nuanced. Instead of having a long conversation, I’ve created this mantra that the monkeys and I repeat on a regular basis: What are scissors for? Paper. What are scissors not for? People. Simple. They get it, and no one’s been cut since we started using it.

For work, it doesn’t make sense to try and think, how would I make this simple enough for a 2 year old to understand. That’s going to far. But it does make sense to think about making an idea so simple that someone outside of the field or outside of the industry can understand it. Although my mom is very bright, she’s a museum educator, not a business person or an innovation strategist. So for simplicity’s sake, I’m going to work on making my ideas so simple and clear that my mom can understand what I’m talking about, the first time I explain it. Simple.

 

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I’m just digging into Presentation Zen, by Garr Reynolds, in preparation for putting together a presentation that I’m giving in April at the In Store Marketing Summit.

I came across a great quote from Wabi Sabi Simple, by Richard Powell. “Do only what is necessary to convey what is essential.   [C]arefully eliminate elements that distract from the essential whole, elements that obstruct and obscure…Clutter, bulk and erudition confuse perception and stifle comprehension, whereas simplicity allows clear and direct attention.”

I think he’s refering to haiku and bonsai, but it seems like it could easily apply to a harried life. I know that when I start to get stressed out, it is often the product of taking on more than is necessary, much of which is self imposed.  It seems worth thinking about what is essential, what obscures and confuses, and what is actually worthy of clear and direct attention.

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