How metaphors can make your communication explode like dynamite

How metaphors can make your communication explode like dynamite

You want to be heard and for people to look at you when you address them, to nod and agree with what you say, to understand your message and to pass this on to others, but getting your point across can be hard.

Do you ever feel when you are presenting, or talking to colleagues, like you’re surrounded by nodding dogs – there’s movement from the neck up, but nothing going in between the ears?

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Blogging can be a bit like that too when no-one comments on your posts. It’s like being stuck on a desert island and desperately shouting at the top of your lungs, but no one responds. Just silence or at best the echo of your own voice.

Frustrating to say the least – right?

I’ve recently noticed that the best presenters, trainers, managers and writers all use the same technique to get over this problem and land their point like an arrow hitting the bullseye.

Metaphors.

a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance

Verbal. Visual. Written. They all work and are guaranteed to ignite your communication like a match to touch paper.

Why do they work?

  • They help you relate to the complex world around you
  • They make you a better story teller
  • They create an image that draws your listeners in and holds their attention

If you want to be really smart, and for your words to truly resonate with people then you simply have to start using metaphors, and for an even stronger effect make it relevant to the situation or the person you are dealing with. Not doing would be like trying to play a game of rugby on a muddy field with no boots on.

Here’s some examples:

  1. You have a technical designer who is over-engineering an IT solution, trying cover every possible eventuality and scenario so that the functionality will never break. It’s frustrating the team and delaying your work. This could be discussed with the designer using the metaphor of building a car. There are hundreds of possible things that could go wrong, but for the most common twenty faults, warning lights / symbols are provided to tell you when they need attention. Also, all cars are built with a spare wheel for emergency purposes. It’s rarely needed, but it’s there just in case, however the car doesn’t come with 4 spare wheels, that would slow the car down, take up too much space and be an unnecessary overhead. It would also add cost to the build. So, the lesson here is to pick the top 20 issues, provide warning messages, and if needed stick a spare tyre in the for good measure, then let someone start driving the car.
  2. You want to take a training course for some personal development / to learn new skills, but your manager (a gym bunny) isn’t keen on approving the cost and allowing you time out of the office. You can explain this in their terms – it’s like wanting to build up your pecs whilst not being allowed to do any bench press / or having a really strong upper body, but spending no time working on your legs so you end up out of proportion and imbalanced / or sending someone into a football match and asking them to play as a striker,  when they’ve only ever played as a goal keeper in the past.

So in order to avoid this:

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and become more like this:

Winners-podium-Powerpoint

  • Create imagery
  • Tell a story
  • Make it personal and/or relevant (sports, kids, cooking, cars)

Start practising today. It may take a bit of time, but you can’t build a wall without laying the foundations first.

You might get it wrong at first, but you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs. Go for it!

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