Are You Joking?
People laughed at Susan Boyle when she walked on stage. A 47-year old woman who has never been kissed, Susan goes under the scrutiny and the sneers of the judges and audience of Britain’s Got Talent. With an air of confidence, she answers questions cheerfully and refuses to be intimidated. When she tells them she wants to be like Elaine Paige, and that she’ll be singing “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables, she elicits even more snickers from the audience.
The moment she opened her mouth, however, the audience is quickly transformed. Her powerful voice and a stunning rendition of the Les Miserables hit song leaves everyone completely awestruck. She receives a standing ovation way before ending the song… and gets the three biggest yeses from the astonished judges.
This video took YouTube by storm over the last couple of weeks, garnering around 100,000 views from the time I saw it, to 35,565,543 views now, as I write this post. 35 Million! Imagine that.
What made this video spread like wildfire?
This story is a perfect example of what makes ideas stick. According to Chip and Dan Heath, authors of the book, Made To Stick, ideas that take hold actually follow some principles, all of which are captured in the Susan Boyle episode. Their book explains these principles in depth. It’s definitely worth a read.
Keep Things Simple
Keeping things simple helps you know what you want to say. Find the essential core of your ideas and focus on that. Prioritize, prioritize prioritize. “The Golden Rule is the ultimate model of simplicity; a one-sentence statement so profound that an individual could spend a lifetime learning to follow it”, says Heath.
Make it Unexpected
How do you get people’s attention and keep their interest? We get attention by using the element of surprise and keep it by sustaining their interest. Break your audience’s guessing machines and then fix it. Keep their interest by piquing their curiosity.
Concreteness helps people understand and remember. People filter out ambiguous and meaningless things and keep memorable ones. Speak in terms of human actions and senses.
To see is to believe. People need a trial period before they’re convinced. You can also use statistics, try-before-you-buy strategies, and other convincing details to support your idea.
Make it Emotional
Make people care by tugging at their emotions. When people feel something, they are more likely to act on it.
Stories inspire people to act and tell them what to in certain situations. They are easy to remember and are often passed on and retold. Susan’s video is a typical underdog story, with her being ridiculed at first, and then winning people’s hearts in the end. Several lessons can be found in her story, two of which are, “Do not judge a book by its cover” and “Never give up on your dream”.
These principles will help people understand and remember your ideas. Keep them in mind when presenting to your bosses, colleagues, clients and partners and you’ll be sure to leave a lasting impression.
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