My curiosity about communication and the expression of ideas urged me to read the book Made to Stick written by two incredible brothers, Chip and Dan Heath. It aims to answer: why do some ideas survive while others die? Most importantly, what makes ideas stick?
The book talks about this particular example…
One day, The Centre for Science in the Public Interest sent bags of theatre popcorn from three big US cities for a nutritional analysis. In a typical bag of popcorn, there was found to be 37 grams of saturated fat when a normal diet should contain no more than 20. Shocking.
Despite the alarm, the CSPI needed to spread the message in a way that everyone would understand how serious this was. I mean, think about it, most of us have no idea when looking at the nutritional content behind our favourite bag of cookies. 37 grams. So what? Is that good or bad?
So in the September of 1992, CSPI held a press conference. The message it presented was “A medium sized movie butter popcorn contains more artery clogging fat than a bacon and eggs breakfast, a Big Mac, and a dinner of steak.” They laid out these foods for display for the television cameras, and the idea was to demonstrate that all this saturated fat is stuffed into a single bag of popcorn.
The story was a sensation, making the front pages of USA today, with headline writers cracking, “Lights, Camera, Cholesterol!”
CSPI’s success makes me question: if I know something about the world, how do I communicate my idea so that people care?
We are humans. We are wired to feel things. By watching the display of food, people were utterly disgusted, they felt gross, their emotions were elicited, and they were moved. Similarly, in my university lecture for Communications, I always wonder how every word of my professor makes an impact. When Dr. Rahman speaks, we understand, remember, and re-tell. How so? Because content never lives on its own. Through the constant sparking electricity between him and us, he makes it come to life.
Amongst many other factors, I’ve learnt that at least one thing that nurtures ideas so they can make a difference is emotion. A good idea awakens emotion. And good speakers know how to open emotion gates.
⁃ SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻♀️