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Create Analogies For Impact

In cognitive science, we talk about the ways in which people (and their brains) create structures through which they understand the world. Speakers and leaders frequently think that what they have to do when explaining ideas or motivating people is to create entirely new cognitive structures for their listeners.

The speaker's thinking goes along the line, "I've come up with something I need to explain, therefore I need to give my listener the whole idea from the ground up and then they will understand it." It's like a builder thinking he has to go back to the pyramids and show how people how to build brand new blocks made of mud before they can work out how to put the crowning jewel atop their new edifice.

Most of the time, it doesn't work - not quickly, not efficiently and not effectively. And it usually leaves the audience cold and only academically interested.

As a speaker, you should embrace the power of analogy. Using analogies takes time and preparation. It's like a painter carefully constructing her scene, choosing the image and feeling in her mind that she wishes to create, and then carefully choosing her colour, her brushes and the lines that she produces on her canvas a meaningful moment in time.

Analogies work because they build on something that the hearer already knows to draw similarities with what you're saying or describing. But it is like looking at it through the window using a mirror - looking from a different angle, direction and position changes the way you perceive the subject and creates new impressions, associations and clarity.

Analogies need what I call a degree of "Analogic Congruity"(TM) to make them powerful. They need to be relatable to your audience. The more startling and original analogies are more powerful and more memorable. And the more emotive connections they have, the more forceful their motivational impact.

Devise a powerful analogy the next time you have to present. See the effect. You can be like the painter creating a masterpiece of meaning for yourself and your audience.

The Authentic Speaking(R) course addresses more about analogies and their use. Sign up today. Of course, I also work with coaching clients to incorporate analogies when appropriate that will add power and effect to their speaking. Contact me at to find out more or obtain a free consultation.

(C) 2021 Peter J. McLean

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