3 reasons business communicators should use metaphors

They can help you capture attention, build emotional connections and simplify complicated issues. Here’s how.

The rapid pace of technology, and of the world, makes it more challenging than ever to connect with people—especially those whom we want to influence.

While words are powerful, the human brain is wired to think in pictures.

For example, if someone said the word “car,” your mind would instantly pull up an image of a car, not the letters C-A-R. You may picture your dream car, first car or the car you drive.

Consider these three reasons for using metaphors in business:

1. Metaphors help us capture attention.

Social media has dubbed 2014 as “the year of the visual.” Infographics, slide decks, Instagram, Pinterest, Vimeo and Vine snippets garner more attention than text. Therefore, it makes sense that we weave metaphors—which pull up mental pictures—into our business conversations and presentations. Metaphors help our messages resonate.

2. Metaphors create emotional connections.

Metaphors (also known as comparisons, analogies or relationships) speak from and to the right side of the brain—the portion that handles emotion and imagination. When discussing a logical matter like systems and processes (left brain), consider this suggestion by Anne Miller, a corporate trainer and author:


3. Metaphors simplify complex ideas.

Have you ever watched or listened to a newscast where the announcer says something like, “The water main break pushed 15million gallons of water into the streets of our city. That’s enough to fill Yankee Stadium three times.”

We may not grasp what 15 million gallons of water looks like, but most people can imagine a professional baseball stadium to help them understand it.

As Miller says, this subtle power of language helps us persuade, explain, sell and inspire others to get the results we want.

A version of this article originally appeared on Get in Front Communications blog.

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