Friday, March 02, 2007

Say three things, and you've said nothing

I've been reading "Made To Stick", a recent book I won for free by leaving a comment on where they give away 10 free books each friday to readers. The book, which is great so far, talks about breaking down your ideas to the core, and pushing those to the forefront.

Newspaper articles are written in descending order of importance. The lead should say it all. The details become less important as the article goes on, and as you all know the final sentence of a sports recap usually ends with "Longwell also kicked a 37 yard field goal in the 2nd quarter."

In business, you often hear about the 30 second pitch. You have 30 seconds to explain your company to someone in an elevator. No time for going through every important point, you need to lead in with the essence of your business, condensed enough that it can sound unique and distinctive in just one or two sentences.

It's only after you've got someone's attention that you should go into all the other details and features.

So the next time you need to explain something, don't start out by going into each and every detail. Start with "it's like [something they already know] but with this twist [something else they already know]". "Oh, my concept for the movie Speed: it's Die Hard on a bus".

Be short, sweet, and to the core. Then go into detail.

Want to watch me put my money where my mouth is. I'll re-write that post with half as many words.

Be short, sweet, and to the point.

Messages often get lost in translation. Instead of listing of every concept, step, advantage, it's better to reduce something down to a one or two line description. First tell someone how it's "like" something they already know (so they'll easily form the concept in their mind), and then give the twist, explain how it's different.

Even if you think something is "unlike anything else out there", you're probably better off comparing it to something that already exists. Then give the twist.

This concept is thoroughly covered in the book "Made To Stick" which I am currently reading (thanks winning it for free over at where they give away free books every Friday).

Get them hooked first. Then go into detail.

Now I'll cut it in half again.

Keep it simple sweetheart.

People often mistakenly believe that getting their message across means giving as many details as possible. Instead, start simply. Focus on the core idea. Relate it to something they know, then give the twist. Get them onboard within the first two sentences.

Simple makes people happy, and spreads easily.

Want to know more? Read "Made To Stick".

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