Cheat Sheet on How to Make Your Ideas Stick in People’s Mind

“Don’t panic, but one of your kidneys has been harvested.”

That’s the punch line for one of the most successful urban legends in the last fifteen years. What makes it so successful? It’s sticky: understandable, memorable and effective in changing thought and behavior.

How do you create ideas that are sticky? You use these six principles found in the book Made to Stick:

Simple: Think staggeringly simple.

Find the core of your idea. Like a proverb. Hollywood script writers create the high concept pitch. Journalists ask, “What’s the lead?”

Unexpected: Attract attention.

Surprise your readers. Create mystery and intrigue in your opening lines. Ask provocative questions.

Concrete: Help people understand and remember.

Make abstractions concrete. Insert hooks—images and experiences—into your idea. Put people into the story. Talk about people and not statistics.

Credible: Help people believe.

Use authority and testimonies. Use convincing details. Make statistics come alive.

Emotional: Make people care.

People donate more to one little girl than to a huge swath of Africa. Appeal to self-interest—and not just base self interest. Why does it matter to them? Appeal to identity: Texans don’t litter and Americans fight evil.

Stories: Get people to act.

Use stories to show people how to act. And use stories for inspiration. Look for three key plots: Challenge, Connection and Creativity.

Believe it or not, the acronym for these six principles is SUCCES.

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