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Great Leaders Communicate Ideas That Stick & Survive
As leaders we share or come across various ideas on a daily basis. While some of them stick, many die. But one thing that we all could agree to is that the death of an idea doesn’t mean that it wasn’t worthy enough.
In fact, unfortunately a lot of worthy ideas are also not able to thrive because we fail to communicate them effectively. Presenting ideas is a skill. While the thought behind an idea could be complex, it needs to be presented in a way that makes the idea relatable.
During my days at Stanford, I attended a class by Chip Heath. He spoke about the six qualities of communication that make ideas memorable, which he, along with his brother Dan Heath, wrapped in a clever acronym called SUCCESs (Simple Unexpected Concrete Credible Emotional Stories).
Over the last decade, I have really come to admire the SUCCESs framework as I have found it very useful to enhance my own strategic communication. In this week’s newsletter, I try to break it down so that you can use it in your own communication.
Simple: We all suffer from the ‘curse of knowledge’. This means that many times our communication is riddled with information that we “assume” others will understand. Simple means that you must break down the idea to its core while communicating to a larger group.
Not everyone knows your idea like you do. Therefore, identify and prioritize what you want to communicate.
Unexpected: In order to grab attention for your ideas, you will have to clear the clutter by making them ‘unexpected’. Challenge the ordinary status quo and you will communicate an idea that will stick.
You can break the everyday thought process by creating curiosity gaps- an urge to discover the outcomes and to see how things work. For example, you could start the communication with some sort of an unexpected question or fact that will startle your audience.
Concrete: Many times, our ideas mean different things to different people. Communicate in a way that your idea starts meaning the same thing to everyone. Painting a picture or an image is a way to drive concreteness.
Credible: When ideas become credible, they become believable. Use statistics or your own personal experience to build credibility.
Emotions: People care more when an idea resonates with their desires, wishes, aspirations and hopes. So giving a reason to care (i.e. what’s in it for you) can help make your ideas stick. Just make it about the people by finding what matters to them and you will find much higher engagement.
Stories: Stories widen our imagination and drive action. They inspire and motivate. They also help drive other principles of communication- unexpected twists, concreteness and emotions. So weave your ideas as stories while communicating and watch them stick in the minds of your audience.
These are some ways which can make your ideas stick. Ineffective communication can lead to ideas getting killed and creating execution gaps. So let’s continue to make our communication better, so that our ideas stick with more people for a longer time!
If you liked reading about SUCCESs, please check out Chip and Dan Heath’s book “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die”.
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