Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Refining a Message

How can you make a pitch for technology and make the message stick? This question has been burning in my mind as I work with some new equipment over the summer. Along the way, I found the book Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.

AVerMedia Document Camera/ Visualizer
One of the new pieces of equipment is a document camera. Up until recently, I hadn't heard much about these products. When the AVerMedia CP130 arrived at our school at the close of the 2007-2008 year, I wasn't certain who might choose to use it but I saw a lot of potential. Back in the "old days" when I was in grammar school, the nuns used opaque projectors (see image) to resize drawings. I had forgotten about them until I saw our art teacher using one to project some lettering on the wall of the cafeteria. The document camera is the same in concept with the added feature of being able to capture the image as a JPEG or a movie. I've managed to collect a few ideas in delicious already.

Selling the Idea to Our Faculty
My initial plan was to take five minutes at the faculty meeting and have everyone make a cootie catcher by following my hands via the document projector. I was going to equate it with an overhead projector that does not require a transparent object. I would then let everyone know they could come back to my room to take a closer look.

Made to Stick
The book has been leading me through six steps. These steps have the potential to make the idea of using the document projector in the classroom survive the five minute demo. The idea should not only survive, but I should end up with a much better presentation. Once the idea survives the demonstration, the teachers should be more likely to consider using the equipment as a part of a classroom lesson.

The Main Points
I am currently reading and thinking through the fifth of six points. The main concepts are that an idea needs to have:
  • a simple message
  • an unexpected attention getter
  • a concrete example
  • a believable idea
  • something that will cause people to care about the idea
  • a story to get people to act on the idea
I have been capturing my thought process showing the change from my initial instinct through my final presentation plan. If you are trying to "sell" an addition or modification of an idea this book is for you! Take time to get the book from your local library or bookstore. I believe it will give you some new tools. It might also remind you of advise you have heard before. In the end, you will have a much stronger presentation.

Image Citation:
"Progress? The trees don't think so." obscuracamerareferen ca's photostream. 2006 Oct 9. 2008 Jul 9.


  1. I like those six points. They help to frame a new idea in a meaningful and interactive way.

  2. Kevin:
    If you haven't taken a look at the book, it's an easy read. Each page seems to be generating new thoughts. I'm looking forward to finishing the book this week. I'm still not sure how my final presentation will look, but I know it will be much better than the cootie catcher idea.

  3. I am sure the Cootie idea has some value though.


  4. Hi Ann,

    I think you are already an expert at refining a message--I see it in the way you have evolved the design of your blog over time. Before I started my own, I poured through the blogs of writers like you to see HOW a message is best shared. You have polished your design so it compliments the blogging genre: clear,uncluttered,with a natural feel to the posts.

    I bet that's how you communicate with your colleagues. I know your ideas will stick. They have with me.

  5. Jan:
    It took me the better part of six months to get the blog to the point that I feel comfortable with both the look and the style.

    I'm really looking forward to the new school year. This will be the year I will really measure the gains in technology happening outside the computer classes I teach. I'm looking forward to seeing what sticks in my message.

    I'm also looking forward to watching your blog progress. All the best wishes in your new writing endeavor.