Tag Archives: Heath brothers

Heath Brothers to Distribute New Business Book

Chip and Dan Heath are publishing their first book in 4 1/2 years.  We haveHeathBrothers featured their previous books at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas, which are Made to Stick (Random House, 2007), Switch (Crown, 2010), and Decisive (Crown, 2013).   I use Made to Stick as a required book in my MBA Business Communication course at the University of Dallas.  Randy Mayeux has delivered a workshop around the principles of Decisive, that we have facilitated for several companies.

PowerofMomentsBookCoverThis book is called The Power of Moments:  Why Certain Moments Have Extraordinary Impact (Simon & Schuster), and will be released on October 3, 2017.

Here is a description of their new book, from an e-Mail that I received from them today:

In this book, the Heath Brothers explore why certain brief experiences can jolt us and elevate us and change us—and how we can learn to create such extraordinary moments in our life and work.

While human lives are endlessly variable, our most memorable positive moments are dominated by four elements: elevation, insight, pride, and connection. If we embrace these elements, we can conjure more moments that matter. What if a teacher could design a lesson that he knew his students would remember 20 years later? What if a manager knew how to create an experience that would delight customers? What if you had a better sense of how to create memories that matter for your children?

This book delves into some fascinating mysteries of experience: Why we tend to remember the best or worst moment of an experience, as well as the last moment, and forget the rest. Why “we feel most comfortable when things are certain, but we feel most alive when they’re not.” And why our most cherished memories are clustered into a brief period during our youth.

Readers discover how brief experiences can change lives, such as the experiment in which two strangers meet in a room, and forty-five minutes later, they leave as best friends. (What happens in that time?) Or the tale of the world’s youngest female billionaire, who credits her resilience to something her father asked the family at the dinner table. (What was that simple question?)

Many of the defining moments in our lives are the result of accident or luck—but why would we leave our most meaningful, memorable moments to chance when we can create them? The Power of Moments shows us how to be the author of richer experiences.

Remember that Your Audience is “Intelligent, but Ignorant”: ”The Curse of Knowledge” (wisdom from the Heath brothers)

In Made to Stick:  Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, the Heath brothers describe a very real problem for people who give speeches and presentations.  Here’s the problem.  Speakers believe that their listeners know more they actually know.

Speakers do not want to “speak down” to the audience.  They do not want to treat the audience in a condescending manner.  This is all good.  But, the reality is, audiences frequently do not know — or if they at one time knew, they have forgotten.  Thus every speaker has to treat every audience as “intelligent, but ignorant.”

This is a crucial distinction.  “Intelligent” means that the audience is not “less than” any speaker – audience members are competent, smart, capable.  But viewing the audience as “intelligent, but ignorant” means that on this particular issue, the speaker has information to impart that the audience does not know or does not remember, and would not learn unless the speaker delivers the information in a very clear manner.

This problem, this mistake, is called “the curse of knowledge.” And it works this way: the speaker assumes that the audience already knows, or does remember.  And so, the speaker speaks, and the audience does not “get it.”  And the audience will not speak up and say “I don’t know that,” because to do so would make them feel stupid.  So, the speaker continues his/her message, oblivious to the fact that the audience is in the dark.

Thus, to combat this problem, the speaker needs to explain everything as though to a novice.

Here’s what the Heath brothers have to say:

Our knowledge has “cursed” us.  And it becomes difficult for us to share our knowledge with others, because we can’t readily re-create our listeners’ state of mind.  The archvillain of sticky ideas is the Curse of Knowledge.

And in the book, they propose a simple, yet powerful experiment to demonstrate just how pervasive this problem is.  I have tried this with a number of audiences, and it always illustrates the problem very effectively.  They recommend “the song tapping experiment.”  The speaker taps out, on the table or podium, a familiar song (My current favorite is “You ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog”). To the one tapping, the song is oh-so-obvious.  To the audience, the song tapped out dimply does not register.  They just can’t make it out.  What is obvious to the tapper is gibberish to the tappee.  Again, from the book:  “tappers have been given knowledge {the song title} that makes it impossible for them to imagine what it’s like to lack that knowledge.”

Here’s the communication lesson.  Never use a phrase, or tell a story, assuming that the audience already knows it, and can fill in the blanks themselves.  Over-explain! For every time it might be a “mistake” to “over-explain,” it really is the smarter approach practically every time to take the “over-explain” route.  Because, let’s remember, there is no success in communicaiton until the audience gets what the speaker intends.

So, view your audience as intelligent, engaged – but still just a little on the “ignorant/needs-to-be-informed” side of the equation.  Do this, and you can rise above “the curse of knowledge.”