I’ll get to our regularly scheduled post in just a minute, but I’d like to tell you about our first contest in which you can win one of our services! The one of your choice–hurrah! If you subscribe to our weekly tips, you are entered once. If you complete a short survey, you are entered once. If you do both, you’re entered twice. Click here to take survey.
I’m so excited to hear what you have to say! Now, girls, this is on the honor system. Please leave a comment below telling me if you did one or both with your name and email address. Comments will be open for two full weeks. On Tuesday, September 28th, I’ll pick the winner randomly. The winner will be able to choose one of our services which is a value of up to $195!! (I don’t mean to insult anybody’s intelligence, but until I figure out how to change it, you can get to the comments section by clicking on the title of this post and scrolling to the bottom.)
On to today’s post…Last week our key word was “simple”. This week the key word borrowed from Dan and Chip Heath’s book Made to Stick is “unexpected”.
The Heath brothers make this insightful comment, “Common sense is the enemy of sticky messages. When messages sound like common sense, they float gently in one ear and out the other.”
So true. I’m an avid reader, and I often find myself skimming and not truly reading. Recently, though, I’ve been reading a series by Mary DeMuth. Because her word choices are so unique and truly surprising, I’m pretty sure that I read every word and didn’t skim at all.
Chip and Dan explain that there’s actually a biological purpose for surprise. When we are struck with anything unexpected, our brains react with surprise and latch on to information that will protect us from future unexpected events. They say, “…surprise acts as a kind of emergency override…things come to a halt, ongoing activities are interrupted, our attention focuses involuntarily on the event that surprised us.”
How do we create surprise in our messages? We avoid cliches and think of new and fresh ways to say things. Choose examples that are counter-intuitive. Tell stories with unexpected endings. Create tension with mystery and stories that pique your audience’s curiosity. One way to do the last thing is to begin a story at the beginning of your talk and end it later.
These are just a few ideas to create the unexpected in your messages. This chapter in the book is chock full of stories and examples. My favorite is what Nora Ephron’s journalism professor did to his class. The way he used surprise changed the course of her life and made her want to be a writer, so don’t miss it!
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