Made To Stick Review

Made to Stick is a book about making ideas ‘stick’. Its an important concept for mentalists because you want to create a memorable show.

Chip and Dan Heath have found 6 principles which make ideas stick:

  1. Simplicity
  2. Unexpectedness
  3. Concreteness
  4. Credibility
  5. Emotions
  6. Stories

If you understand these ideas and apply them to your mentalism routines they will be so much more powerful!


Simplicity is crucial for ideas to be memorable, and this goes for your routines too. As you become a more advanced mentalist it can be tempting to come up with more complex routines but often simple effects are more memorable!

A good simple idea is like a proverb in that it is both simple and profound. Some examples of good simple ideas are Bill Clinton’s campaign moto: ‘It’s the economy stupid’ and Southwest Airlines mission statement to be ‘the low cost airline’.

Simple ideas stick!


As a mentalist you need to grab peoples attention and keep it. That’s where unexpectedness comes in. To grab peoples’ attention you have to break their ‘guessing machine’ then fix it. To grab attention:

  1. Find core message
  2. Figure out what’s counter-intuitive about message
  3. Create message that breaks audiences ‘guessing machines’
  4. Help them refine their guessing machines

Your job is to work out how to add elements of surprise.

To keep attention create a mystery then drop in clues as you go along. Try thinking ‘what questions do i want my audience to ask themselves?’


Concreteness means being specific. Use things that people can relate to. For instance, use every day objects and ideas to create a big impact with your routines :)


You need to create credibility as a mentalist. Just by telling people you are a mentalist or by the fact that you are performing or on stage lends credibility.

Remember, our intuitions are often flawed. Factors such as beliefs, emotions and media coverage can warp our perceptions of events. If you know this you can use it to your advantage.

The audience itself also lends credibility. If you can get a member of the audience to confirm something for instance, people are likely to believe them more than you.


Emotions are very important in mentalism. People in a heightened state will see things differently, sometimes literally! There are a number of ways to engage people’s emotions. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is very important in engaging emotions.

Maslow's Pyramid


People love listening to stories. If you can link your routine together by telling a story it will be much more compelling for the audience!


Making an idea stick – the communication framework. For an idea to stick the audience must:

  1. Pay attention
  2. Understand and remember it
  3. Agree, believe
  4. Care
  5. Be able to act on it

Keep this in mind for your routine, though you might not necessarily want people to ‘act’ on your performance, you certainly want them to remember it :)

Here are some useful points to apply if you can’t get an idea to stick:

  1. No one is listening: Break their guessing machines, tell uncommon sense.
  2. Attention wavering: Create curiosity gaps. Mysteries, puzzles etc.
  3. Problems getting people to understand and remember: Make the message simpler and use concrete language. Use real world examples, stories etc.
  4. People have different levels of knowledge: Create concrete basis for understanding, use things everyone understands.
  5. Problems getting people to believe you or agree: Find telling details.
  6. People questioning you constantly: Use a springboard story or anecdote.
  7. Problems getting people to care: Remember people care more about individuals. Tell them an inspiring story, tap into their sense of their own identities.
  8. Things that used to get people excited no longer working: Get out of Maslow’s basement and appeal to more profound types of self interest.
  9. Problems getting people to act: Inspire with challenge plot story or springboard story. Msg must be simple and concrete.

Again, you are not interested in getting people to act (probably), however all the others are great tips on how to pep up your routines.

I hope you enjoyed this review, Made to Stick from a mentalists perspective!


You can grab the book here >>

or the Kindle edition here >>

Made To Stick Review on November 13, 2012 rated 3.9 of 5

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Made To Stick Review on November 13, 2012 rated 3.9 of 5