Dec 7, 2016
Ice Cream, Dogs, Cars?
How would you describe a smartphone to someone living in the 1950’s? to
someone in the 1600’s? That’s an exercise you do in an improv course for
corporations run by Improv Inc., from Chicago’s famous comedy factory Second
City.( Fast Company
They divide participants into groups of three and give them 60 seconds each
to explain what a smartphone does--without using any props. The first person
describes it to someone in 2016. The second describes it to someone in the
1950s and the third to someone in the 1600s. The exercise forces the
describers to really think about what the other person will need to
understand exactly what a smart phone is. “It really forces you to be
empathetic to their point of view.”
Which is exactly what any metaphor maker has to do to influence listeners.
When They Are Too Upset to Hear
Bier wrote me with such a challenge that she faces in a very sensitive
situation. Deborah is the Director of Special Populations at
Senior Services. She created their DementiaWise program of best practices.
When people hear a diagnosis of dementia for a loved one, they frequently
panic, assume the worst, and think Alzheimers (!). In fact, that assumption
can be a mistake.
Dementia is a syndrome, not a disease. It is a group of symptoms that
affects mental cognitive tasks such as memory and can be due to a number of
conditions. These panicked family members are frightened and confused and
often don’t “hear” her technical explanation. She needs to give them more.
“I am a much in demand speaker, but I feel that I need to start speaking
differently to families than I have been. I'm missing their needs in some
way. I'm very sensitive to their emotional experience as caregivers, but I'm
intuiting that they're getting lost with the basic facts they really do need
(much of what they already know is incorrect). I'm also trying to bring a
positive perspective to them -- when using improved care methods, they and
their loved ones will have better lives. Care will be easier. They will be
better emotionally connected and satisfied.”
“But if they're feeling too overwhelmed and scared, they can't hear this. I
thought metaphors might route right around their fears and the stuff they
think they know to help them entertain the possibility of a new view.”
“Dementia is collection of illnesses that involves cognitive impairment.
Alzheimer's is only one of those illnesses -- the most frequently diagnosed
and the one we hear about the most. It is important to understand that all
Alzheimer's disease is dementia,
but not all dementia is Alzheimer's.” (Emphasis mine)
“What I came up with, said Deborah, “that seems to really help families
separate Alzheimers from Dementia is the following: It's like ice cream. All
chocolate ice cream (Alzheimer’s) is ice cream (Dementia), but not all ice
cream is chocolate."
I also offer: "All poodles are dogs, but not all dogs are poodles. All
Fords are cars, but not all cars are Fords." Between dogs, cars and ice
cream, I think no one is confused any longer.”
Second City, Deborah, & You
Deborah and the Second City understand the power of empathy and the
importance of knowing your audience when it comes to creating deep,
Let’s switch their insights to your world:
different audiences do you address (functions, levels of
sophistication, knowledge, experience)? Do you develop different metaphors
for each of these audiences for maximum understanding and resonance?
distinctions do you attempt to communicate about your services,
products or ideas? What metaphor or analogy do you use to sharpen those
differences for your listeners to get you the results you want more quickly?
“If I can’t see it, I don’t understand it.” Metaphors are
your best tool for helping listeners “see” what you are saying.
Wishing you a fun filled, peaceful Holiday Season. The Metaphor Minute will
see you in the New Year!
Make What You Say Pay! — with Metaphors
Need to Distinguish Your Presentation or Demo for Better Results?
Call today for individual coaching or
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learn how to turn information that tells into a story that sells. 212-876-1875
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an expertly crafted, compelling and actionable story. Together, we built a
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language, making sure every word was important. Finally, Anne coached me on
the delivery. The result was so exciting - I've never been so well received
in a speech before. Thank you, Anne!" Kate Griffin, Vice President, CFED.org
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