Anne Miller — Words Matter Make What You Say Pay!
Presentation & Sales Specialist
Author | Speaker | Coach
Words Matter – Make What You Say Pay!


Metaphor Minute: Enagage Me Or Die




November 22, 2011

Engage Me or Die

Bill Burns who works at Broadcom Tech Publications is a self-described "mild-mannered technical writer" by day and a "communications nut" by night. Convinced that technical presentations did not have to be as boring as the ones he constantly saw, he decided to take to the soapbox himself and model what he believed effective presenting could be at his firm's huge All Hands get together event.

"I thought my first presentation was all ready to go several weeks prior to the event," writes Bill, "And then I listened to one of your recorded webcasts on the power of Metaphor and realized my presentation was just yak, yak, yak, with no real engagement, and NO metaphor. So I completely reworked it, focusing on the brain as the key target of a good presentation ("Your brain remembers what engages it, and doesn't remember what doesn't engage it"), and then seasoned the whole thing with a healthy dose of engaging metaphors."

"Not only did it succeed as a presentation in itself, but it turned everyone into presentation critics: throughout the rest of the week, my colleagues would comment to me about the other presentations we saw, and how they measured up according to the structure I had taught them! As I'm sure you know, nothing’s better than watching your input go viral!"

"As someone once said, 'My success is your success.' Thanks for the spot-on tip that helped my presentations be such a success!"

Here are three examples from Bill's presentation...

  1. "When I first started applying to companies fresh out of college, my Dad said, 'Don't contact the HR department. Because one of their jobs is to keep you out so that the people who are in can do their work without you getting in the way." Your brain is your HR department. One of its jobs is to keep stuff out that's not important so you can work with the stuff that is important…."

  2. "Densely packed slides are visual overloads. Talking over densely packed slides adds auditory overload. Brains hate overloads. When brains get overloaded, something disastrous kicks in: the School of Fish Syndrome.

    "Small fish travel in big schools to avoid being eaten by sharks. The sheer number of fish makes it almost impossible for the shark to focus on any of them. So, instead of a feast, the shark goes away famished. When our listeners are faced with a sea of ideas from our slides and our voices, like the shark, they cannot focus and often go away from our presentations remembering almost nothing."


  3. "…Present one idea and one simple graphic per slide. This allows your slides and spoken words to work together, so they actually engage your brain more effectively than either one or the other can do alone. This is the perfect presentation blend. And just like us, brains love a perfect blend."

One image. One thought. One engaged audience. Thanks, Bill, for sharing this with The Metaphor Minute.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!.

Make what you say pay — with metaphors.

Anne Miller

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"The Metaphor Minute" is a brief monthly note with examples from business, media, or politics that illustrate the power of metaphors and analogies to make a point, solve a problem, and get results. Use these stories to stimulate high pay-off metaphoric thinking in your business. © 2009. Anne Miller. -- PERMISSION TO REPRINT -- Feel free to reprint in company newsletters or articles. Just include ©2011, Anne Miller, author, "Metaphorically Selling,"

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