A Dreama’ and a Schema

When you are communicating a new idea, attention is scarce.  The easiest way to get your audience to understand what you are explaining in the simplest way possible is to use a schema (defined as a mental structure we use to organize and simplify our knowledge of the world around us).  Another way to think of this is using an anchor and a twist (for example, the movie Speed was pitched as Die Hard on a bus or the movie Alien was pitched as Jaws in Space).

Once upon a time people couldn’t grasp the concept of the personal computer and the possibilities of what it could do.  Steve Jobs had always dreamed that a computer could be something everyone used at home and explained it with this now famous anchor and twist:

“What a computer is to me is it’s the most remarkable tool that we’ve ever come up with, and it’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.” 

The next time you have a complicated idea that you are having trouble explaining, think about how you can anchor it to something people already know and twist it by adding something new.

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