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3 Keys to Selling Your Idea from Malcolm Gladwell

Posted on: October 28th, 2013 | by tmpadmin

This article appears courtesy of Jonah Berger

Whether you agree with him or not, Malcolm Gladwell does an amazing job of communicating ideas.  Here are three tips we can learn about selling our own ideas.

Whether you agree with his conclusions or not, Malcolm Gladwell has certainly done a great job of getting his ideas out there.  His first book, The Tipping Point, sold over 3 million copies. It has spent 423 weeks, or over 8 years, on the New York Times bestseller list. His later books, Blink and Outliers have also sold over a million copies each and had a similarly large impact on management practice.

But outside of learning from Gladwell’s content, what can we learn from his success at selling ideas? How can we become better storysellers?

Gladwell has a knack for turning complicated (and often arcane) scientific ideas into digestible, tasty nuggets of knowledge.  His readers don’t just passively sit listen, they’re inspired to take action.  To change their behavior.  To transform their organizations.  To tell others what they learned.

So what does Gladwell DO that makes him so effective?

I saw Gladwell speak about his new book, David and Goliath, a few weeks ago, and here are three tips I picked up.  Some new ones, some oldies but goodies

  1. KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid

When sharing ideas we have a tendency to slip into jargon.  To talk in ways that only insiders can understand.  We know so much about the idea that we assume others do as well.  So we go into all the nuances and complexity.  Without realizing that we’re losing our audience along the way.  It’s called the curse of knowledge.

Gladwell spares us the unnecessary details.  He keeps it simple.  He knows most of his readers aren’t experts on cognitive psychology, network sociology, or the science of dyslexia. So he avoids the minutiae.  He boils down complicated concepts into the key details and shares only those.  Not the whole forest, just the most important trees.

If your audience remembered only one thing you told them, what should it be?  How can you strip out unnecessary details and keep it simple?

  1. Stories Beat Information Every Time

Information is great.  Facts can be useful, enlightening, and help us make better decisions.  But they can also be overwhelming, boring, and hard to remember.

Rather than just providing information, Gladwell tells stories.  Tales of hipsters in the East Village or a girls’ basketball team that seemed woefully outmatched.  These stories surprise and engage the audience and they help the listener mentally simulate what is happening.

But when carefully designed, stories also serve a larger purpose.  They illustrate the main point of an argument in a way information alone can’t.  They’re like vessels or carriers.

The most effective stories are Trojan Horses.  Sure, there is an engaging narrative, but information comes along for the ride.  It’s proof by (compelling) example.

What’s your Trojan Horse Story?  What’s the enthralling narrative that will carry your message along inside?

  1. A Good Tease Holds Attention

Most plays have three acts.  The first act introduces things, the second act develops them, and the third resolves them.   Movies, while not as explicit, usually follow a similar pattern.  Sure everything could get resolved faster, but a good first act sets the scene in a way that draws us in.  Just like a good mystery.

Gladwell’s talks (and books) often have the same structure.  He starts with a question in the form of a story, but doesn’t resolve that story right away. Instead, he launches into a second and even a third story before wrapping up the first one.  But the listener stays tuned along the way because they want to know how the first story ends.  By opening what researchers call a curiosity gap, or hole in the listener’s knowledge, Gladwell encourages them to pay attention to the rest.

How can you open up a curiosity gap?  Point out a hole in your listener’s knowledge that will make them want to lean in closer to learn more?

Whether you agree with his ideas or not, Gladwell is a great storyteller.  One of the best there is.  But he’s also a great storyseller.  A master at selling ideas that drive others to action.

Whether you’re selling a product, an idea, or just yourself, we can all benefit from being better storysellers.

Virtual Pitch Competition Announced for Startup Weekend New Haven – Grand Prize $250!

Posted on: October 21st, 2013 | by Bill Kenney

SWNHAre you registered for Startup Weekend New Haven? If so, you have a chance to perfect your pitch, reduce your anxiety, promote your idea to potential team members, and win $250 all before the weekend even starts.

NET LogoEntrepreneurs who want to form a strong team around their idea and be successful at Startup Weekend New Haven need to have a great 1-minute pitch. Imagine walking into Friday night knowing that you will excite and engage the audience with your pitch. You can do it!

When you participate in this virtual pitch competition, you will not only prepare yourself for Friday night, but you will also have a chance to win a $250 cash card courtesy of the New England Tech Project.

The $250 cash card winner will be determined based on the entrepreneur’s ability to state the problem and their solution and call-to-action in the most compelling way.

Participating is simple:

  1. It you haven’t already, register for Startup Weekend New Haven

  2. Create a free account on Test My Pitch (you will navigate to the http://ctnext.testmypitch.com/ portal)

  3. Utilize Test My Pitch to draft and post your video pitch for feedback

  4. Draft and post as many pitches as you like. Perfecting your pitch normally takes at least a few draft and feedback rounds…no one starts with a final draft!

Rules to qualify for the Startup Weekend New Haven Virtual Pitch Competition and potentially win the $250 New England Tech Project cash card:

  1. You must be registered for Startup Weekend New Haven before entering your pitch

  2. You must post your video pitch on http://ctnext.testmypitch.com/ before 5:00 PM on November 14, 2013

  3. Only video pitches will be considered

  4. Your pitch must be judged the best by our team of judges

Good luck and pitch well my friend!

Bill
bkenney@testmypitch.com
(860) 573-4821

Virtual Pitch Competition Announced for Startup Weekend Hartford – Grand Prize $250!

Posted on: October 6th, 2013 | by Bill Kenney

startup-weekend-logos-for-web-sliderAre you registered for Startup Weekend Hartford? If so, you have a chance to perfect your pitch, reduce your anxiety, promote your idea to potential team members, and win $250 all before the weekend even starts.

Entrepreneurs who want to form a strong team around their idea and be successful at Startup Weekend Hartford need to have a great 1-minute pitch. Imagine walking into Friday night knowing that you will excite and engage the audience with your pitch. You can do it!

When you participate in this virtual pitch competition, you will not only prepare yourself for Friday night, but you will also have a chance to win a $250 cash card courtesy of the New England Tech Project.

NET LogoThe $250 cash card winner will be determined based on the entrepreneur’s ability to state the problem and their solution and call-to-action in the most compelling way.

Participating is simple:

  1. It you haven’t already, register for Startup Weekend Hartford

  2. Create a free account on Test My Pitch (you will navigate to the http://ctnext.testmypitch.com/ portal)

  3. Utilize Test My Pitch to draft and post your video pitch for feedback

  4. Draft and post as many pitches as you like. Perfecting your pitch normally takes at least a few draft and feedback rounds…no one starts with a final draft!

Rules to qualify for the Startup Weekend Hartford Virtual Pitch Competition and potentially win the $250 New England Tech Project cash card:

  1. You must be registered for Startup Weekend Hartford before entering your pitch

  2. You must post your video pitch on http://ctnext.testmypitch.com/ before 5:00 PM on October 17, 2013

  3. Only video pitches will be considered

  4. Your pitch must be judged the best by our team of judges

Good luck and pitch well my friend!

Bill
bkenney@testmypitch.com
(860) 573-4821