Made to Stick by Dan and Chip Heath

Presentations are a part of every sales professional’s life.  The challenge for every sales presenter is to make a connection with the audience and to be remembered. 

Pick three points you want the audience to remember

A great way to do that is to pick a small number of messages you want your audience to remember, ideally no more than three.

Experience shows people can remember three points – but they’ll struggle to remember four or five (and there’s no chance beyond that).

Tell stories

You then bring those messages alive with real life stories of how your company helped clients realise those messages.

I recently listened to an episode of the Advanced Selling Podcast presented by Bill Caskey and Bryan Neale called “When Your Ideas Stick, People Buy”.  It features an interview with Dan Heath, co-author of “Made to Stick: Why some ideas take hold and others come unstuck”.

The 13 minute interview is well worth listening to, covering why story telling is such an effective means of presenting.  You can listen to the podcast in the resources links below.

Key learning points

Dan points out two key learning points.  The first is the ‘Curse of Knowledge’ and the second is stories should be the majority of a presentation.

The Curse of Knowledge

One of Dan’s concepts is when you know a lot about a subject, it’s easy to make wrong assumptions about the audience’s level of knowledge.  You end up slipping into jargon and becoming too conceptual.  Their eyes glaze over and you’re lost.

That’s because the mental distance between you and your audience widens when the challenge is actually to close it.  Story telling is a neat way of closing that gap.

Stories should be the body of your presentation

Dan’s second concept is the stories should make up the majority of your presentation.

The stories should be chosen and told to be relevant to your audience’s situation and concerns.  That way it’s easy for them to make the mental leap to ‘that could be me’.

Dan suggests the story structure should follow this outline to make it easy for your audience to identify with the content:

  • What was the situation or problem before anything happened?
  • Why did they decide to do something about it?
  • What happened – what was done and how was it done?
  • What were the outcomes?

I’d add to that some form of human connection.  People remember stories about people.  Rather than a slide with lots of bullet points, try one with just a picture of the person who is the subject of the story. And talk not just about the facts of what happened, but how they felt about it.


Here’s what to do next

If you’re interested in how this could help you, or feel I may be able to help you with some of the challenges you’re facing, please get in touch for an informal discussion.

There’s no commitment, we’ll just discuss your situation to see if working together might be a good fit.  Contact me now.

Best regards

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