- For an idea to reach its intended target, you must focus on the core message
Often, an idea fails to reach its intended target, or it does, and the meaning is lost on them. There is too much emphasis on the loud excesses, the many things that seem important but are simply extras on your way to your goal instead of the core message. Marketers are drawn to making overly complex ads and slogans, alienating their consumers and costing the company money. A lot of this confusion and loss can be avoided if they apply the principle of simplicity.
To make a concept simply isn’t necessarily the same as watering it down and or dumbing it down. This only means shedding the unimportant aspects to present the “core” message to the public. This way, the only information they’ll be hearing is exactly what you want them to listen to and understand.
Some tools aid the dissemination of ideas such that it is more straightforward but retains its core. You can avoid burdening an idea with excess details. Instead, you should seek out the core of the idea and allow the target audience to create whole pictures for themselves. There is a tendency for a plan or an idea to fail simply because the premise is vague and prone to misinterpretation, or it can be fully understood but restricts the minds of the recipients. A good idea is simple, straightforward, and straight to the point.
An idea that will catch the minds and eyes of the public is one based on the “inverted pyramid” style — this refers to placing the juiciest part of the idea forefront and the extra details later. This ensures that people grab the most essential elements even though they miss out on the follow-up.
To get your message across effectively, you can employ proverbs and analogies. Proverbs provide the audience with a sense of ethics and cultural reference that ease your message. A proverb is concise and compact. It does not drag on about pointless details of its message. It simply is a one-hit-wonder. A proverb is just what you need if you wish to get your message across without laboring it with lengthy explanations.
While proverbs are compact bites of information, analogies are a doorway to a larger information store. An analogy is often a reference to another closely related event. It draws meaning and identity from the reference, making it easier for you to grab the message. Ordinarily, a simple message might just mean nothing, even if it was in a proverb form. Still, with an analogy alluding to a separate but similar issue, the core message is suddenly laid bare.
- People barely notice what they are familiar with and that is exactly why you should do the unexpected
Reworking complex messages into simple bites is very unexpected, which is exactly why they stick. This affinity for “unexpectedness” is human nature. We are drawn to newness, novelty, and a break from the norm. The new would be more interesting if the anchor added a spot of comedy or had your favorite singer read a section, no? yes! But then, how do you get from expected to unexpected when you want to capture people’s attention?
By doing the unexpected.
Take an idea, a concept people are already familiar with, and then throw in a very diverse and unexpected plot twist. The conventional idea would have been boring and normal, but you capture and keep their attention once you introduce the surprise factor. Be careful not to douse your message with so much surprise it’s either cliché or pointless, like an ice-cream truck in the middle of the desert.
People want to know what they don’t already know; the human mind is designed to fill gaps in knowledge. You must first create these gaps and have the right information to fill them in handy. Your message must be so well framed that until it ends, the listener is waiting on the edge of their seat for the next word. You can see this in movie trailers; the message is so profound and loud that the viewers ask, “What’s going to happen next?”. People want to know, so giving them something that sticks long enough is up to you.
The trick with creating these gaps that ready the audience for your unexpected yet simple message that’s built to last a lifetime in their heads is to feed them with knowledge. Yes. Give them more facts than they can wrap their heads around. You’d expect that more knowledge would reduce curiosity, but it, in fact, increases it, and this gives you a chance to expose them to new experiences and information. As long as there are new things left to learn, a curious mind will desire it.
And thus, your message must possess such conciseness and directness that its message isn’t misconstrued, a sense of history to help people relate to it, and a sense of wonder to cause them to keep asking, “what’s next, what’s left?
- To get and maintain the attention of people, you must make your idea concrete
Ideas can be catchy and draw as much attention as possible when you keep it simple and throw something unexpected that both feeds and draws curiosity from your listeners. However, there is a chance that with so many tools employed, you can risk being abstract and vague. Sometimes, we try to get a message across to a specific group. Sadly, the message is either too simple or too unexpectedly surprising that it doesn’t hold enough resonance with them.
Concreteness is a surefire way to get your message across and avoid bubbling over with needless confusion. What makes a story concrete? What sets apart a concrete story from an abstract one? Well, if your message is able to draw semblance in something everyone can relate to, then it is concrete. Take, for example, the fable about The Boy Who Cried Wolf. It both gives listeners a chance to live in a world of “what if,” and still offers readers a chance to see their own lives from a safe distance. It ties into human nature and what is expected in normal society. The fable is concrete because it is able to find relatedness in different cultures and has one clear message even though it doesn’t force the intended narrative.
If you wish to make your message concrete, you should avoid trying to add on too many details. Subtract all the unnecessary information; a good story/pitch gives the listeners all the needed gist and no “surface.” A concrete story aids understanding and assimilation. The human brain is designed to keep these stories in our memory because they don’t labor the mind to recreate a new narrative but rather just allows an already existing one.
Concrete ideas are simple, actually. They don’t use up too many language points. Instead, they use a general language that any listener, regardless of their race or background, will be able to understand without too much trouble.
It might sound too much of a task to translate a vast subject into a compact, concrete, “layman” version for your listeners. If you are having trouble making your idea concrete, you should try going backward instead — think of the customers, consumers, and users. What language will appeal to them the most? What kind of story will resonate the most with them? Once you identify your audiences’ preferences, you can tailor your message to suit them.
- Concreteness is not all you need to sell your pitch; it also needs to be credible
What if your story, pitch, or claim is concrete and infallible in its own respect? Is it credible? Can the audience quickly search the internet and find it irrefutable? A story can be simple and concrete but lack credibility. So how then do you generate credibility for your story?
Credibility is garnered in various ways or by various means, but first, it is important to know why we find certain stories credible and others not. We associate truth with authority. If someone we trust or look up to tells a story, we immediately agree on their version of the tale without any question. The first element of credibility is the external authority to back up the story. Celebrities possess this power of authority on credibility about many subjects. They can stand in to certify the existence of aliens, and we would believe them simply because they’re famous and we idolize them.
These authorities and celebrities can’t always be credible; why? Because they lack closeness to the subject matter, the second element of credibility relies on anti-authorities— individuals who, in one way or another, have had a personal experience with the subject, like an AIDS patient or a smoker who now has failing lungs. When they tell you that unprotected sex or smoking is detrimental to your health, you don’t need to look any farther than them for proof. This breeds credibility to the story without even having to present evidence.
But sometimes, these anti-authorities can be considered as vague, and they can’t precisely believe they themselves can experience such, and that’s where the inclusion of vivid details comes in. a credible story is credible because not only does it present the readers/listeners with tangible facts but because it does so with vivid details. An ad to stop people from driving at night might not get enough attention, but if people knew that the dangers that lurk on the lonely roads at night included crossing deer, armed bandits, and a chance of being abducted, they’ll suddenly take notice and adhere to it.
Vivid details aid proper understanding of a credible and concrete message, but without hard facts, they are just fancy words repeated over and over again. What are the hard facts, then? Statistics. Numbers and charts. This helps put things in perspective; for example, if listeners were told that swimming in the ocean is less likely to lead to death than driving at night, people would argue that sharks kill surfers every day. While this would be false, it would catch on quick, and that’s why you need to add statistics. Telling listeners that a deer crossing the road is 300 times more likely to kill you than a shark in open water will suddenly make them shift ground and take your message seriously, and that’s the power of hard facts in gaining credibility.
What happens when hard facts are questionable or at least too abstract to be proven to people who care little for numbers on a board? This is when you build your story on a sure and familiar foundation by bringing in a fact that’s generally acceptable and mostly true. For example, if you told people your rackets are why Serena Williams has a killer serve, best believe you will experience a boost in sales because people know her and her prowess. Your sales will go up because people will associate your product with Serena and her level of credibility.
Whilst basing your story’s credibility on authority, anti-authority, giving it great detail and solid statistics and even building around already established credible facts are all great for credibility, a final tool that is most essential and effective is letting the listener prove it for himself. For example, you say your ATMs work 24/7. You charge the public with the task of proving it for themselves. There is no better way to gain credibility that your detergent cleans stains better and faster than letting people use free samples on whatever kinds of stain they can manufacture.
- To make people care about your stories, you must capture their understanding
Your story might have been made simple enough to capture everyone’s understanding, mixed in with an unexpected element for a jarring pique of interest. You’ve made it concrete and made sure it’s credible, but what is the guarantee that people will care about the message?
For your story to make people care, your story should evoke a response on an emotional level. First, you need to appeal to their hearts and not their minds since the mind is more analytical and will be less likely to give in to “tearjerkers.” Your message should not drag in any need for analysis to appeal to the heart. For example, if you want to solicit support for homeless children, don’t start your message with something like stating the staggering number of children rendered homeless daily but instead make it about one child being homeless. Make your message grow around the idea that they’d be helping one kid at a time, but they’d be helping all kids in effect. If you wish to be heard, understood, and taken seriously, the best way to go is to appeal to the listeners’ emotions. People are more likely to act if they feel compelled by sympathy.
But not all listeners are so grand and selfless; in fact, humans usually aren’t. Most people do stuff because it serves one person first; them. If your message is to reach a group of people, then it must be something that will help their own personal interests first before anything else. For example, if you want to fund a school trip and want parents to support you, you are better off offering a box of cookies for every donation than if you ask them to give money away. People are self-serving, and yes, this can be a bad thing, but you can use it to your advantage.
You may be tempted to make everything on your message feed into this stereotype in light of the personal interest clause. Still, you can end up falling flat on your back because sometimes, people have external values that they hold dearer than their interests. Examples are the Army, economic reforms, etc. so your message has to cater to these values well enough to urge them into action. Even when it is a significant discomfort to them, people will stand for a concept that they feel is wholesome and right. This is an innate human trait. Knowing this, it is important to decide whether you want your message to draw from the well of the self-interest or concern for a greater cause.
- Another way to capture people’s understanding is by connecting to their emotions
Emotions can be a very complex and unpredictable tool in your arsenal, but mastering it will open many doors for you and your story. If people care enough, they will act, and this should be your guide when you frame a pitch, an ad, or a speech.
Although the place of emotions is essential in stirring response, it is the stories that get people to act. Stories are an entertaining and educative tool for disseminating meaningful messages because it is an opportunity to give the listeners a sense of wonder. It helps to instruct, inspire and motivate them. A story simulates images and pathways in our minds. We are able to travel into the world it suggests and exists therein. The key factor of stories is that they push us to simulate. A problem is easier solved if we can visualize it and work through it mentally.
Stories aren’t always easy to create, so instead of trying to create one, you can try to seek out one. A good story or one with potential will have either of these “plots”; the creativity plot, the connection plot, the challenging plot, or all three.
The creative plot brings our minds to thought. It causes us to think; a good story will usher in freedom or drive to think, not just vaguely, but about definite solutions. It gives us a chance to experience a mental breakthrough.
However, the connection plot involves people who form relationships and, with this relationship, transcend their limitations and achieve more than they would on their own. It causes us to yearn for a connection with the people around us in hopes of defeating a problem that’s beyond us.
With the challenging plot, the audience is met with a story that pits two opponents against each other, but one would be the underdog and the other a sure thing. The story highlights how the underdog, who is the protagonist, strives and defeats this insurmountable challenge and comes out on top.
So, it can be safe to say that a good story should challenge our minds to think, inspire us to seek connections, and motivate us to take on whatever challenge we currently face. Stories are a sticky tool for passing across an idea because they are concrete, credible, evoke emotions, and are, well…a story. The only drawback is making sure it isn’t so well worded that it becomes too complex to be understood.
Daily, we are faced with the burning question; How do I make people listen to my idea? And without the right guidance, a lot of ideas will never be heard, mostly because they lack simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotion, and a compelling story. The goal is to be able to tell your story, and share your idea without the core intention of getting lost amidst the fanciful setup. Your idea is one tweak away from being sticky.
When next you have an idea you want to execute, ask yourself if it will pass the above test.