January 29, 2015

How Metaphors Make Presentations Exciting

According to the Oxford Dictionaries, a metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.

The Functions of a Metaphor

Metaphors are an integral part of our everyday language and are used daily, whether consciously or unconsciously. As for instance, common phrases such as a blanket of snow” or “keep your eyes peeled,” make little or no literal sense and are impossible to actualize, yet, such phrases provide a powerful imagery to peruse an idea or feeling.


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Activating both sides of the brain, metaphors remain anchored in the long term memory of the recipient and are thus one of the most effective stylistic elements to convince the audience of a message. It is not surprising then that politicians and business figures often build their speeches from the effective usage of metaphors.

In a review of speeches by senior politicians, it was found that charismatic leaders like President Obama, “Reagan and Lincoln, used far more metaphors in their speaking.” It is no wonder that metaphors are not just a stylistic device, but serve as a useful tool to illustrate and persuade. Then why refrain using such a powerful tool in your next presentation?

Mental Images

Complex issues are often simpler to explain and easier to understand with the use of metaphors. They generate images directly into the mind, activating the brain like a mental cinema. This serves as a prevailing tool to get a message across to the audience, rather than constantly overwhelming the listener with complicated phrases and hard facts and figures. Carefully chosen metaphors function as a powerful tool for persuading negotiations, explaining complex concepts and selling ideas and products.

PowerPoint Templates Metaphoric Images

As humans tend to think in pictures, figurative language leaves a lasting imprint in the brain and serves as an insistent and influential instrument. Metaphors have a deeper and lasting effect on the audience than a mere enumeration of sober facts. They reach your audience in dealing and thinking conceptually with the metaphor and are directed either towards approval or rejection.

This gives your presentation a double check as metaphoric statements used are either identified with or castoff. This interaction actively engages the audience with the content of your presentation and makes the information come alive, rather than having a passive sprinkle effect.

The use of metaphors in a lecture makes sense, but be careful not to overuse them. One to two visually powerful metaphors are enough to underline the most important messages in an impressive way and stay embedded in the mind of your audience.

Metaphors in Presentations

The potential of making a lasting impression with metaphors is great, so it is advisable to use metaphors when possible. You can let your imagination run free or gather inspirations from known examples. Here is a small selection of popular metaphors used in business settings:

  • Strategy = Chess” – accommodates ideas of business development, resource allocation, planning, hierarchy, competition, etc.
  • Careers = Ladders” – embodies the idea that going up signifies positive growth, for the higher you go, the more you can see
  • Processes = Chains” – this implies step processes, as also positive connotations of power of reliability, but also warns that “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link”
  • Companies = Ships” – enforces a sense of a team working together to navigate around the hazards of the business environment; the CEO is captain and the staff are the crew

PowerPoint Metaphors Templates

Mediating complex issues, metaphors can help the audience to better understand abstract concepts and relationships and to easily follow the thread of your presentation. You don’t have to rely on metaphors from external sources; you can create your own and discover that it is not so difficult.

If you are considering using metaphors in your presentation, take a look at our online shop – you will find many professional looking designed symbols and metaphors ideal to take, construct and reuse with your own ideas in your next PowerPoint presentation.

Images: PresentationLoad
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