Amy Carroll » Sharing Deeply » One Simple Way to Make Your Message Stick (Until It Messes with People)

One Simple Way to Make Your Message Stick (Until It Messes with People)

You know that I’m a resource junkie that loves to help speakers in every budget range. In that spirit, I’m re-sharing a timeless tip that shouldn’t be missed. Enjoy!

There are 2 books that I’m convinced every speaker needs to read.  The first is Andy Stanley’s book Communicating for a ChangeIt’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!

Why am I giving it such a huge plug?  Because I want to write about the Heath brother’s first principle, and I want to make clear that I’m borrowing their very sticky and wonderful ideas!

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 they’re too complex to be 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, Lysa TerKeurst gave the Friday night message.  I can still tell you the point of the message from 5 years 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.  Practice a little, and see what you can do, focusing your messages on one compelling point.


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  1. Thank you. I appreciate you sharing this. I’d like to know more about this.

  2. Thanks, Amy. I am going to pull out my copy of Made to Stick again soon!

    1. It’s such a great book! I need to do some re-reading too. Hugs to you, Kim!

  3. Oh, I am so glad you shared this post! I haven’t considered defining that one point as a proverb before. Thank you for the resources, too.

    1. You’re so welcome, Charla! The “one thing” as a proverb was a light-bulb moment for me too.