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September 22, 2023

Pop Talk: The 3 R’s of Sticky Stories


Several years ago, Stanford University did a study where a particular professor took two of his classes and gave the same basic information, except for one major difference. That major difference was, in one class, he fed data and in the other class, he fed stories. The goal was to see which class would work better, from an educational standpoint, long term.

Thirty days later, he went back to each class and asked them, “What do you remember about that class?” In the class that data was given, only five percent of the students remembered what he taught that day. When he went to the next class taught using stories, 60 percent of them remembered what he taught. That’s 12 times the memory power! What could that do for you in leading marriage and fatherhood ministry? As you’re speaking? As you’re presenting? As you’re writing? Find something that people can remember 12 times more than using just regular data. Here are the 3 R’s of Sticky Stories.

Watch the Full Pop Talk: 

Pop Talks are part of a series where various fatherhood and family leaders share talks for encouraging and equipping the followers of Fatherhood CoMission.

#1 Relevant

Whatever topic you’re speaking on, the goal is simple. You want to make it relevant to your audience. You want to make the story relevant to your talk. It needs to weave into the minds of those you’re trying to encourage and teach. You want that story to be relevant and speak on the topic and drive home your point.

#2 Relatable

Your story needs to reach your audience in a way that they can understand. You want to speak in the proper language. Tell a story that is not over their heads or below them. Tell a story that hits the mark, that’s going to leave a mark.

I’ve talked before and used a bat as an object lesson. Years later, I’ve have folks come up to me at a church and ask, “Do you still have the bat?” They remember my illustration. Because, in our illustrations, in our stories, if we can use an object lesson, it’s more stickable and that is powerful.

#3 Remind-able

I know that’s not a word. But we’re going to call it a word for now. Remind-able means that whenever you hear that topic, you remember that story. When you see that object, you remember that story.

When we speak in stories and we’re good storytellers. By the way, there’s a difference between telling a story and telling a story well. Make sure you can tell the story well. Meaning, you’re not stoic. Your face is moving and your utilize every muscle to show excitement and your passion. When you do that it becomes remind-able—it’s memorable.

A sticky story is simply designed to be remembered. We can take that information and have it relatable to a particular topic, which now makes learning much easier. This is power in sticky stories. Think about the power of sticky stories in your conferences, your workshops, your books, your podcasts, and in everything you do.

When we grab somebody at the beginning with a powerful sticky story, it sets the tone for the rest of our talk; or the rest of our writing. One of my favorite writers is John Maxwell. John’s books speak to me. The truth of the matter is, John’s books are primarily stories about himself and others. His writing is so encouraging because not only is it relevant, it’s relatable. We can see ourselves in his stories. That’s powerful. When we can pack a punch with a great sticky story, it’s going to make all the difference.