According to authors/brothers of Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath, it’s all a matter of encountering the unexpected.
Since most people quickly adapt to patterns, they just as quickly tune out anything that falls into their concept of “normal or regular.”
In order to get an attentive audience (private or public, personal or professional), individuals would do better to work on honing their ability to offer a two-step alternative to what is expected.
The Heath’s suggest implementing the following formula when you need to get your point across (and you need for someone to remember what you said…)
Surprise + interest = stickiness.
1. Surprise gets our attention. Facts (even incorrect ones) can stick if they are presented in a way that shocks the listener out of his preconceived pattern of expectation.
2. Interest keeps our attention. Unexpected ideas are more likely to stick because surprise makes us pay attention and think. That extra attention and thinking sears unexpected events into our memories.
Try to remember the last time you were genuinely surprised. When you do, that event is very likely memorable because of these two factors. Someone surprised you in a way that you did a double-take and were interested enough in figuring out the “whys” behind what happened.
We try to demystify things that surprise us (either to avoid getting caught again or in the hopes of replicating the pleasant encounter in the future.)
The Heath’s conclude that —
“Surprise makes us want to find an answer – to resolve the question of why we were surprised – and big surprises call for big answers.”