The Power of Metaphors
Good metaphors serve as a Trojan horse that sneaks your message into the hearts and minds of your audience.
Yesterday in my Monday LinkedIn newsletter I promoted this week’s issue with this metaphor:
“A good story is like a rollercoaster ride, taking the audience on an emotional journey with twists, turns, and surprises that leave a lasting impression. Learn how to tell better stories.”
People clicked, read and commented.
The copy grabbed their attention.
From the feedback my team and I received, the metaphor resonated with my community.
If you missed it, here’s the issue.
Metaphors are the artists of language, painting vivid pictures in the minds of your listeners.
Good metaphors are the surgeons of meaning, slicing through the complexity of language to get to the heart of the matter.
They’re powerful tools when creating content, whether it be written, audio, or video. They provide a way to convey complex ideas and concepts in a simple and easy-to-understand way.
By using metaphors, you can create a strong connection between your audience and your content, making it more memorable and impactful. In today’s issue of my Substack newsletter, we will explore the power of metaphors and how you can create and use them effectively in your content.
What is a Metaphor?
A metaphor is a figure of speech that describes a subject by highlighting its similarities to another subject. In essence, it is a way of describing one thing in terms of something else.
For example, saying "life is a journey" is a metaphor because it is comparing the experience of life to the experience of a journey. Metaphors can be used in many different ways, from simple comparisons to more complex analogies.
How to Craft a Good Metaphor
Crafting a good metaphor requires some thought and effort, but it is well worth it. Here are the steps to creating a good metaphor:
Identify the Concept: Start by identifying the concept or idea that you want to convey. This could be anything from a business strategy to a marketing message.
Find the Comparison: Look for a comparison that best fits the concept or idea. Think about what the concept is like and what it reminds you of.
Make the Connection: Once you have found a comparison, make the connection between the two. This is where you explain how the comparison relates to the concept or idea.
Test Your Metaphor: Test your metaphor by asking yourself if it makes sense and if it effectively conveys the concept or idea you are trying to communicate.
Using ChatGPT to Write Metaphors
Use ChatGPT to help craft your next metaphor. Here’s a prompt that works well for me (delete the quotation marks):
“write 5 metaphors explaining, highlighting and emphasizing XXX.”
So if I wanted to create a metaphor helping me hammer home the point that it’s a good idea to have an experienced lawyer help you as a business owner make smart business decisions, I would use this prompt in ChatGPT:
“write 5 metaphors explaining, highlighting and emphasizing why it’s a smart decision for business owners to seek the advice of an experienced lawyer”
Here are the 5 results:
“Seeking the advice of an experienced lawyer is like having a compass in uncharted territory. A business owner may not know the legal terrain or the potential pitfalls that could arise, but a lawyer can guide them through the maze and help them make informed decisions.”
“An experienced lawyer can act as a shield against legal risks, protecting a business owner from potential liabilities and lawsuits. Just as a shield can protect a warrior from harm, a lawyer can provide protection and help prevent legal problems before they arise.”
“The legal system can be complex and difficult to navigate, but an experienced lawyer can act as a compass to help a business owner find their way. A lawyer can guide them through the legal process, provide advice on legal procedures, and help them avoid costly mistakes.”
“A lawyer can act as a guardian angel for legal matters, watching over a business owner and ensuring that their legal rights are protected. Just as an angel protects and guides, a lawyer can provide peace of mind and help a business owner avoid legal trouble.”
“When legal emergencies arise, an experienced lawyer can act as a life preserver, keeping a business owner afloat and helping them stay afloat in rough legal waters. A lawyer can provide quick and decisive action to protect a business owner's legal interests and help them weather any legal storms that may come their way.”
This took about 30 seconds to create, copy and paste. Pretty slick isn’t it?
Examples of Metaphors
Let's take a look at some examples of metaphors for the business world:
"Our company is a ship, with each employee as a crew member. We all need to work together to keep the ship sailing smoothly."
“Our new product is a Swiss Army knife, with multiple functions that meet all of your needs."
"Our business is like a symphony, with each department playing its own instrument to create a beautiful harmony."
"Our new service is a warm blanket, providing comfort and security to our customers."
"Our software is like a puzzle, with each piece fitting perfectly to create a seamless experience."
As you can see, metaphors can be used in many different ways and can be incredibly effective in creating a strong emotional connection with your audience.
Using Metaphors in Presentations
Metaphors are also incredibly useful in everyday or special business presentations. They can help to break down complex ideas into simple and easy-to-understand concepts. Here are some tips for using metaphors in presentations:
Choose Carefully: Choose your metaphors carefully and make sure they effectively convey the concepts you are trying to communicate. Again, consider using ChatGPT and following up with sub-prompts until you get exactly what you want.
Be Consistent: Be consistent in your use of metaphors throughout your presentation. This will help to create a cohesive message that is easy for your audience to follow. If you’re using the above metaphor of a ship, keep your theme consistent with sailing, the ocean and this particular journey.
Keep It Simple: Use simple and easy-to-understand metaphors that your audience can relate to.
Use Visual Aids: Use visual aids, such as images, diagrams and videos, to help reinforce your metaphors and make them more memorable.
Practice: Practice your presentation to make sure your metaphors flow smoothly and effectively convey your message.
Let's say you are giving a presentation about the importance of teamwork in the workplace. You could use a metaphor to convey the concept of teamwork by showing a picture of a basketball team playing together.
You could then explain how each member of the team has a specific role to play, and how they work together to achieve their goal of winning the game. Just like in the workplace, each member of a team has a specific role to play, and by working together, they can achieve their goals and succeed.
Let's say you are marketing a new fitness app. You could use a metaphor to convey the benefits of using the app by comparing it to a personal trainer. You could say something like "Our app is like having a personal trainer in your pocket, providing personalized workouts and coaching to help you reach your fitness goals."
This metaphor compares the app to a personal trainer, which is a familiar and relatable concept for people interested in fitness. By using this metaphor, you can make your app more memorable and create a stronger emotional connection with your audience.
In conclusion, metaphors are the spices of communication, adding flavor and interest to even the most mundane conversations. They are powerful tools to use when creating digital content, whether it be written, audio, or video.
Metaphors can help to convey complex ideas in a simple and easy-to-understand way, create an emotional connection with your audience, and make your content more memorable.
To craft a good metaphor, identify the concept, find the comparison, make the connection, and test your metaphor. When using metaphors in presentations, choose your metaphors carefully, be consistent, keep it simple, use visual aids, and practice. By following these tips, you can use metaphors to create powerful digital content that resonates with your audience and drives results for your business.
Pro Tip: If you’d rather have someone else create metaphors for you, I highly recommend Anne Miller. Anne came up with a metaphor that I used in a closing argument in a tragic wrongful death case resulting in a million dollar jury verdict. Yes, Anne’s the next best thing to sliced bread in my world (see what I did?).
I first became a fan of Anne’s after reading her book, “The Tall Lady with the Iceberg: The Power of Metaphor to Sell, Persuade & Explain Anything to Anyone” available on Amazon. You can connect and reach out to Anne via her website.
OK. That’s it for today. It’s time for me to head over to the courthouse and pick a jury.
Until next time, enjoy the journey and never stop making each day your masterpiece!
2013 California Litigation Lawyer of the Year
2009 Orange County Trial Lawyer of the Year
Let’s connect on LinkedIn!
I have already shared the link to this article with a friend of mine who has difficulty in both using AI and expressing his feelings about its implementation in his work.
This is so good! Thank you for sharing how the power of metaphors can help us to understand complex and sometimes difficult topics. I particularly appreciate that you talked about using ChatGPT to come up with some metaphors that we can use. That can help those of us who write and speak professionally. Thank you for continuing to give such great examples that are very practical and very helpful, Mitch.