Unforgotten Technique for Increasing “Sticky Message” and Learners Attention: Case Studies

Sticky Message: Use Case Study interaction that support discovery learning theory and Adult Learning Principles:

  1. Make the learning points and objectives clear, concise and compelling. Be open to audience and discussion teams coming -up with new solutions.
  2. Bury problems in the case to facilitate problem solving and discovery learning.
  3. Create surprises –forcing participants to use reflection- in- action processes (asking for ideas of other participants or making new assumptions) and after outcome/results are gathered learners reflect-on- action taken and new knowledge to broaden their zone of master.
  4. Ask challenging and ” reflective on action” type of questions–The best presenters don’t structure their presentations by thinking, “What’s the next slide or point I should make?” Instead, they decide, “What’s the next question I want them to discuss and wrestle with so as to better understand the critical role physician assistant’s play in a patient’s recovery.
  5. Unpack discussion and discuss learning points before moving on to next topic.

Principles of Case Study Discussions

Principles of case study facilitation form a bridge between values, strategies and techniques. Principles are those things we do that enable us to live in sync with our values.  I have identified the following:  Principles of Case Study Facilitation for your review. Briefly they are:

Plan before doing, but be flexible in execution:Design the session using the Presentation Design Template)and prepare for potential obstacles and questions before the event, not during.

Remain in the present and be neutral and unbiased: focus on group process, maintenance, and critical messages.

Be pragmatic and results focused: Plan and engage participants to accomplish targeted message of the case and desired learning outcomes.


1. Stories and relevant examples of key concepts or points are the foundation of a memorable and “sticky” presentation.

If you use only one tip, this is the one. The #1 mistake I’ve observed in presentations—and there is no close second—is that the message in many presentations is generally too abstract or theoretical. The presenter offers concepts and conclusions but not evidence and specific examples of how to apply the concept. He talks at a high level about the big picture, but gives no concrete details that might make the big picture understandable and relevant to listeners. Most people communicate with, say, 3 concepts to 1 part example. That’s exactly backwards. In a compelling presentation, examples are the glue to understanding complex concepts.

A presentation is a sequence of concrete examples and stories are glued together to form a compelling argument or idea. For instance, think of the examples that Al Gore used in his movie An Inconvenient Truth: The before and after photos of Mt. Kilimanjaro, showing the vanishing snow caps. The Cupcake Story you just reviewed. Let be get a tangible feel or sense for the product. Tap into their senses.

I realize that in a technical or scientific presentation data , charts and analysis are a necessity. Data can be experienced as esoteric and abstract unless we make it more relevant through emotional or powerful stories that are easier to identify with, understand and remember.  But because data is pretty abstract, you should resist the pattern that many speakers use — by leading with the data/numbers or to trying to let the data stand alone as a learning tool. Which is more compelling? Saying that there are “150,000 poor adults with AIDS in West Virginia and we need your help to start solving the problem.” Or telling a story about the struggles of a 25-year-old ex-marine and signal mom, and then saying, “Our research suggests that there are 20,000 stories like this, in Parkersburg WV. alone, and we need your help to start solving the problem.” Data are just summaries of thousands of stories—tell a few high powered stories to help make the data come alive and be relevant to your audience.


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