The Power of Metaphor

Metaphors are powerful devices to get Buy-in for your presentation. This is an extract from my book ‘The Presentation Blueprint’.


Once upon a time…

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hat are Metaphors?  The dictionary meaning of metaphor derived from Merrium Websters’ Dictionary classifies it as:

“A figure of speech in which an expression is used to refer to something that it does not literally denote in order to suggest a similarity”

The more common meaning of metaphor is a figure of speech that is used to paint one concept with the attributes normally associated with another.

Understand How A Metaphor Works to Work it

To use a metaphor; we can think of metaphors as seeing the world through the bottom of a glass, in essence it has the same qualities and meaning yet is different.

We can abstract from this, that what we see and hear from a metaphor is what we wish to pay attention to, in the same way as looking through the glass, what we see is fundamentally the same without looking through the glass but different enough for us to perceive something else.

Metaphors in the same way are different enough from the idea, situation or concept with which we initially refer to but allow a different quality and angle with which to interpret them.

Deeper Meaning than before

Metaphors allow you to derive new and deeper or extended meaning from the same thing.

For example: My car is like a racing horse or the cloud is like cotton candy.

The subjects (car and cloud) that are being referenced in the metaphor (as – racing horse and cotton candy) are not really the same as what they are being referenced as i.e. a car is not a racing horse nor is a cloud cotton candy; yet we are able to derive new meaning from them and attach it to the initial subject.

We are able to mentally make associations between one thing and another. We are able to make connections of similarities, even if the similarities are tenuous in link.

This makes the use of metaphor a very special category because we can use something else to describe one thing (like a racing horse is like a car) that has no apparent similarity, we are then able to unconsciously find similarities between the two things and make a comparative analysis between them and say ‘hey this is like that’ even though they are not, you could say it’s like two different peas in the same pod.

What this means in terms of a good old presentation is that instead of talking about a subject you can paint a picture with a metaphor and the audience will instantly understand the meaning.

They’ll get it, without you haveing to explain it.

Or as I’ve just explained I’ll now use a metaphor – it’s like apples and oranges they are different and also the same because they’re still fruit.

See, simple isn’t it.

Find the right metaphor for your idea or parts of your presentation and you get instant Buy-in, because your audience fills in the cracks between anything that might not be total sense.

Metaphor example:

Let’s say you sell a high end product that has a high price tag on. If you position it against lower quality products and try and sell the benefits of it’s higher quality components, it just takes a lot of work.

However if you just say – ‘Hey this is the Rolls Royce of Mobiles’ people instantly understand what that means. It doesn’t require any justification. It doesn’t mean that it lets you off the hook, you may still have to prove it, however it’s a lot easier because people instantly recognise Rolls Royce as being a high quality product.

We use metaphors consistently in our daily language. The world of metaphor is a world only constrained by your and your audiences imagination.


Metaphors are a powerful ways of persuasion.

Here’s some others:

It’s like a computer – Complex made simple

Let me take you on a journey – Time, one place to the next

You can’t see the forest for the trees – So involved in detail

Music to my ears – Gratifying to discover

Brave as a lion – Courageous