Make Your Message Stick in Prospective Clients’ (and Employers’) Minds

Competition is fierce nowadays for viable, solvent clients. As a coach, I see my lawyer clients looking for ways to make their messages stick in prospective clients’ (and in prospective employers’) minds. So, I revisited a book I’d read with tips for making ideas memorable. 

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by brothers Chip and Dan Heath gives great insight into message “stickiness”. Working with the acronym SUCCES[S], the Heath brothers set out the qualities of sticky ideas:  Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, Stories.

This is helpful for lawyers who often speak in abstract, analytic terms. Instead, lawyers should try to make their messages: easy to understand (NOT complex and convoluted); have an element of surprise (NOT predictable); concrete (NOT abstract); credible; emotionally moving in some way (NOT purely analytical); and embedded with anecdotes and stories.

These are some of the techniques that top professional speakers–and trial lawyers–use to make their concepts stick with the audience. All lawyers can use this approach to improve everything from elevator speeches, to CLE presentations, to beauty pageant pitches–to cocktail party conversations.

One thing that I really like about the book is that it shows readers how to ramp up stickiness. The authors reprint sample language–and then improve it using their “SUCCES” formula. They also explain that although you can’t “unstick” a bad idea, you can combat/overwhelm it with another stickier message.

Lawyers working internationally would need to adapt this technique for cross-cultural communication. For example, any anecdotes must be understandable and appropriate in the client’s culture. 

There’s no special expertise necessary to make this strategy work.  As the authors note, “there are no licensed stickologists.” (p. 18).

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