A few years ago Chip and Dan Heath hit publishing pay dirt with their bestselling Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, on the art of making ideas unforgettable, or sticky.

Their idea stuck.

As communicators, it’s our job to distill complex material into tight, memorable messages.

Whenever we prepare a client to face the media or some other external audience, we want people to remember what they hear. And we’re hoping to create tomorrow’s catchiest sound bites.

It’s fashionable to say that social media is what’s driving us all to say more with less. But the truth is that social platforms are an evolution of communication strategies that have been with us a very long time.

Some marketer with a keen sense of stickiness came up with “It floats!” for Ivory Soap back in 1891. Cracker Jack has offered “a prize in every box” since 1912. Snap, Crackle and Pop have been flogging breakfast cereal since WWII.

The marketing term for stickiness is “unaided recall” – aka brand awareness.

Now along comes Brian “Put-A-Buzz-In-Your-Biz” Walter, a screamingly funny corporate entertainer with his own take on how to make content stick. He recently led a workshop for the New York chapter of the National Speakers Association, where he explained his concept of “mini-brands.”

The idea is to turn the key concepts in your business presentation into short and snappy slogans or catchphrases that capture the essence of your argument and can go “verbally viral.”

Climate change is not just about weather patterns and hypotheses – it’s “an inconvenient truth.” Women’s reach for empowerment is “lean in.”

As a corporate communicators, we should be thinking like advertising execs and tapping into our inner Peggy Olsons.

One of Brian’s favorite techniques involves a bit of wordplay. In a technique he calls the “self-Webster,” he splices two words together to come up with an entirely new one that’s easy on the ears.

The ad agency BBDO recently did the same thing for Mars with its Snickers Crisper candy bar ads – “confoolish” (confused + foolish) and “dimpatient” (dim + impatient).

Here’s a few of Brian’s examples:

  • “Voluntainment” (volunteer + entertainment) – enticing unsuspecting volunteers to come on stage, take part in the presentation, and risk humiliation to the delight of the audience.
  • “Contizzle” (content + sizzle) – content with a bit of sparkle and flash to keep the audience awake.
  • “Emphatitutes” (emphasis + platitudes) – trite or hackneyed ideas rescued from oblivion by vigorous delivery.

Inspired by Brian, I pulled off my own self-Webster and came up with a term for content that’s not just sticky, but tickles my funny bone.

Sticky + ticklish = “stickelish.” 

Try it yourself – use this technique to create messaging for your next presentation. Make it stick.


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