June 7, 2010

Three steps for adding analogies to your presentations



I'm an analogies geek. Everything reminds me of some public speaking concept. If you've been reading Speak Schmeak for a while, you might remember how the Tour de France, a cheese plate, American Idol, the Olympics and David Lee Roth have all inspired public speaking blog posts.

Analogies are one of the most effective ways of getting your message across to an audience. Analogies help the audience take a concept that might be complicated or foreign to them and apply it to something in their own lives that's easy to understand.

For some examples, here are a few of my favorite analogies. Here are a couple more.

Take these steps to find good analogies for your own content:

1. Make a list of your core concepts and key points.

When you've been speaking about a topic for a long time, it's easier to come up with analogies than when you're new to your topic. Likewise, if you haven't internalized your core concepts, it's harder to see how aspects of daily life can apply to them.

I have a philosophy about public speaking: It's fun, it's an awesome way to express yourself creatively, and authenticity and passion for your topic are worth more than a thousand techniques. In addition, I focus a lot of my persuasive energy on the ideas of putting your audience first, breaking rules and making presentations fun. Because I have internalized my core concepts, it's easy to find analogies for them everywhere I go.

2. Start looking around at how things in your daily life apply to those key points.


Now that you have your core concepts actively engaged, start looking around you and noticing how aspects of your daily interactions and activities are related to your topic. Is there something about the way people drive that reminds you of your topic? Is there something about how the clerk at the bank processes your transaction that reminds you of your topic? How about the way an apple turns brown when cut or the way birds line up on a telephone line?

Start looking at the world as a giant library of resources about your topic.

3. Capture your ideas as they come to you.

When an analogy comes to you, it can be fleeting. You'll need time to develop the analogy in writing, so make sure to have a method of capturing the idea so you don't forget it! Jot it down on a notepad, use your voice recorder, enter it into Evernote, or e-mail it to yourself from your phone. Don't let it slip away!

By putting these methods to work for you, you will soon be finding analogies everywhere you go, analogies that will enrich your presentations and help deepen your audiences' understanding of your key points.

What are some of your favorite analogies for your topic?

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4 comments. Please add yours! :

Peter said...

Great post, thanks! Altough I like analogies, I am not very good in coming up with them. So, I decided to collect from the web those I find interesting and post them (blog.ygolana.com). Hopefully this will help me to learn, same way as I can learn from your posts.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks for the link, Peter. I'll go check out your analogies!

Tammy Whitten said...

Capturing the ideas is the hard part! I can't tell you how many analogies I've lost along the years by not recording them, or by not using them enough so that I could recall them.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Tammy, it's all about the smart phone. :-) I tend to write them into my calendar, which syncs with Google calendar. Then the next time I look at my calendar, the concept is right there and I transfer it to a draft post in my blog. Good luck!

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