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Stories Only Stick if They Are ‘Sticky’ – Part 3: ‘Concrete’

This is a six part series which breaks down the different elements featured in “Made To Stick” by Chip and Dan Heath.

Why the storytelling element of ‘Concrete’ is ‘sticky’.

A psychologist friend of mine was giving a speech and told the story of the first time she walked into a maximum security prison to provide counseling services to an inmate on death row. That fact, in and of itself is interesting. But, Kristina made it compelling by painting a picture for her audience of that day:

“There I stood outside the concrete walls surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards in the towers above me. The gate slammed behind me as I walked to the entry door. The first thing I noticed when I walked inside was that everything was grey. The walls were grey. The bars were grey. The floor was grey. Even the air was grey. I was asked for my ID and dutifully handed it over. As the guard buzzed me in, he pointed me and my male companion to the room down the hall, outside of which, a hand-cuffed prisoner was looking at me. Intently he took me in. Up and down. This was something I noticed but my male companion didn’t.

This was the man I was there to counsel.”

To say that the picture Kristina painted in a speech that is not about prison, but about compassion, is probably an understatement. Whenever you can paint a picture that makes each audience member feel like they are walking in your shoes, feeling what you feel (or felt) seeing what you see, they will remember that story.

In fact – full disclosure – the words above are NOT the exact words that Kristina used when she told me the story. But it was so concrete to me, it was very easy to remember most of it and, repaint the picture for you.

The very definition of sticky!

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