Amy Carroll » Speaking Tips » Making Your Messages Stick Part 1

Making Your Messages Stick Part 1

There are 2 books that I’m convinced every speaker needs to read.  The first is Andy Stanley’s book Communicating for a Change.  It’s a book that has revolutionized my messages and I believe has exponentially increased my effectiveness.

The other book is one that I recently read called Made to Stick.  The premise of the book is that there are 6 principles that create “sticky” ideas.  What do the authors mean by “sticky”?  Those are ideas that continue to stay with you for long periods of time.  Chip and Dan Heath, the authors, cite urban myths as one example.  They studied to answer these questions:  Why do so many people know those stories?  Why do they continue to circulate?  How have they become integrated into our culture?  What do these “sticky” stories have in common?

It’s a book written for anyone who communicates and wants to make a lasting difference–teachers, marketing teams, and speakers!

There will be a link on our site soon to buy this book.  Why am I giving it such a huge plug?  Because I want to write about the Heath brother’s principles for the next 6 weeks, and I want to make clear that I’m borrowing their very sticky and wonderful ideas!  I’ll write briefly about one principle each week and tell how I think it can be applied to speaking.

Principle 1–Simple

Sticky ideas are simple ideas.  Here’s how the Heath brothers define simple:

“…sound bites are not the ideal.  Proverbs are the ideal.  We must create ideas that are both simple and profound.”

They cite the Golden Rule as the perfect example of a simple, sticky idea.  It’s easy to remember, but it could take an entire lifetime to actually live it out.

This idea of keeping our messages simple ties right into Stanley’s book.  After studying scripture, researching commentaries and filling pages of notebooks with facts, ideas and inspiration, we need to ask God, “What is the one thing that you want my listeners to remember?  What one life-changing thing do You want them to know?”  These questions help us to find The One Thing that God wants us to communicate to our audience.

How many times have you walked away from hearing a speaker thinking “That was great!”?  How many times could you still remember the point of the message a week later?  a month later?  Six months later?  That’s the problem with messages that have many points.  They may seem wonderful to listen to, but are they life-changing for the listener?  I believe that a one-point message can be engaging and challenging as well as life-transforming.

I’ll give you an example.  At She Speaks this year, Lysa TerKeurst gave the Friday night message.  I can still tell you the point of the message from 2 months ago.  “Your reactions determine your reach.”  It was a sticky message that is still messing with my life.  Not only do I remember the main point, but I remember the scripture Lysa used and many of the stories, because they were all wrapped around that one point.

So try it.  It’s a really simple but not easy way to construct a message.  Anybody who makes it looks easy has really spent hours working on a short, simple, memorable proverb.  See what you can do with focusing your messages on one compelling point.


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  1. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that message Lysa gave on our reactions determining our reach! It has definitely stuck and MESSED with me!! This info is soooo helpful and I’m definitely gonna use it as I prepare for my next speaking event! Thank you for taking time to help those of us who are just getting started! I LOVE SOME KINGDOM BUILDING TOO SISTER!!

  2. What a great principle! I am currently going through the Next Step Writer’s Conference Calls. This is another way to help me improve my writing. Thank you to all of you at P31 for encouraging women to improve the gifts God has given them. I look forward to learning more through your blog.

  3. I remember that key point from Lysa’s message, too! It was powerful!

    Thanks for the book recommendation. I’ve added it to my Amazon wishlist, and will order it the next time I have a few books to order.