Choose your Metaphors Wisely for Maximum Impact

“Memories are bullets. Some whiz by and only spook you. Others tear you open and leave you in pieces.”
― Richard Kadrey, Kill the Dead

If memories could really kill or maim, the world wouldn’t need other weapons. But that’s not what this author is talking about. Read closely and you realize he is creating a connection between intensely sad memories and grievous injury.

If you’ve ever brooded over a loved one’s separation or betrayal, you get the picture.

That is the power of metaphors – word or visual cues that describe an abstract concept or feeling and turn it into something anyone can relate to or identify with in their lives.

The key to any successful presentation is this connection you build with your audience.

How do you create that connection and rapport? Emotions help you along. Metaphors work on their imagination and memories, evoke the right emotions, and lead your audience to exactly where you want them.

Leave clichés by the way side

“I want to change my punctuation. I long for exclamation marks, but I’m drowning in ellipses.”
― Isaac Marion, Warm Bodies

Choosing an effective metaphor is like being caught between the devil and the deep sea. Sounds familiar? Your audience has heard these terms far too often. The only emotion clichés evoke is one of boredom, or worse still, annoyance.

Drop the clichés and use your creativity to come up with new ones. Avoid anything you’ve seen in ads or other presentations. Brainstorm ideas with your team or make your own quotes.

Reference old events, news, pop culture, science, people, books, movies, and everyday experiences to create a unique comparison.

WordS to engage

Use metaphors to describe your product or service. Let’s say; you’re selling a investment product. You want to describe the best features of two schemes without boring the audience with technical details. You can use vehicle mileage as a metaphor to compare annual returns.

Metaphors paint a vivid image in their minds and help them get a clear idea of what they should or haven’t been doing.

Visuals to capture attention

Images succeed where words fail. Visual aids tap into an individual’s imagination and bring them closer to accepting your core message.

Use a unique image (not the standard stock photo) to create the required effect. The image or cartoon could represent anything from an advantage of using your product to the impact of not using it. The key here is to use visuals that really accentuate your presentation idea.

Keywords for retention

Focus on the keywords that best describe your product. Leave technical details in your presentation for a later stage. Give the audience the most valuable benefit/solution first.

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPod, he didn’t start off immediately with details on design, speed, battery or volume. He targeted the audience’s love for music and stated the user benefit – 1000 songs in your pocket.

Whatever you do; don’t mix up your metaphors. Stick to one or two relevant metaphors for maximum impact.

Do metaphors figure prominently in your presentations?



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