Monday, July 13, 2009

Leverage the Magic of Metaphors

A metaphor is worth 1,000 pictures. Daniel Pink

The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor. It is the one thing that cannot be learned from others; and it is also a sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies intuitive perception of the similarity in dissimilars. Aristotle

And you thought you were done with metaphors when you graduated from college. Nope. Not really.

Metaphors help you do things like:

- generate innovative ideas.

- communicate the unknown in terms of the known.

- make a deeper connection with your audience.

Creativity expert Roger Von Oech, author of A whack on the Side of the Head, states:

There is always a connection between the random thing you select and your problem -- and your job is to find it. We humans are quite good at finding patterns and meaning int he world around us -- even if none were intended. Whatever you find will add insight into your problem.

So, how do you do this?

Take this concept that you want to communicate, for example, a benefit of your brand. Use it to complete this sentence 10 or 2o times, until you come up with something you like.

This brand benefit is like _________________________.

(Yes, I know that using the words "like" or "as" technically makes it a simile. Same principle.)

Here's an example I developed to answer questions about the benefits of working with the coaching model. Actually it was in explaining to one of my brothers what I do that this metaphor emerged.

If you want to know why you would hire a coach, imagine that you would like to improve your tennis playing ability.

One way would be to join an inexpensive group class at your local Park and Rec. My town has a good tennis program; my kids and I have all participated. But if I really wanted to beef up my tennis playing ability significantly and fast, I would hire a local tennis pro. It's that simple.

Joining Toastmasters is a great way to hone your public speaking skills. But you can upgrade this key leadership skill much faster and more significantly by hiring a coach.

How can you use a metaphor in your presentation?