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


Metaphor Minute: From Confusion To Clarity




January 12, 2012

From Confusion To Clarity

Joanne Lewis of Academic Solutions, an educational support service in Hazlehurst, Georgia, had a student, Laura, who was having difficulty applying what she knew about algebra to the word problems she was trying to solve. The problem? Laura knew so many different methods that she felt overwhelmed and couldn't produce an answer. It was important that she understand which rules to apply to each individual problem because she needed to pass the algebra-math portion of the military ASVAB test (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery).

It became quickly apparent to Joanne that simply telling Laura to calm down and select the appropriate solution was not getting through to her. She was too flustered to hear Joanne's advice. Joanne finally said, "I told her to think of all the rules I had taught her as being in a suitcase or in a toolkit. I explained that when a plumber went to work on pipes or a mechanic on a car, they didn't use every trick they knew or every tool they owned. First, they analyzed the situation, then they chose the correct tool."

"Once she heard the analogy," reports Joanne, "She quit panicking. She changed her way of 'seeing' how to deal with the problems. She began to analyze the problems to decide which of the 'tools' she needed to use. By the end of the hour, she was choosing the correct method to solve individual problems at least 90% of the time. I was impressed (and grateful) for her improvement."

"Thank you for reminding us how often communication is improved by using metaphors and analogies."

What Do You Explain?
Time and again, metaphor proves itself to be the most efficient and effective way to make your point and achieve a result. What do you explain that would get you results faster with the help of metaphorical language?

Make what you say pay — with metaphors.

Anne Miller

Political Fur Flies!
You can't read a columnist or listen to a politician during election cycles without running into a metaphor a minute. Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal, nails Newt Gingrich an an "angry little attack muffin." Elsewhere in her article she notes a 2008 ad recently revived that calls Mitt Romney a "'Masterpiece Theatre'-level flip-flopper." Earlier in the primary campaign, Newt Gingrich compared his failure to qualify on the Virginia ballot to Pearl Harbor, a setback, from which he would recover differently: Taking advantage of Gingrich’s well-known disorganization, Romney framed the loss very differently: "I think it’s more like Lucille Ball at the chocolate factory." Ouch.

The election is only going to get more colorful, not only among Republicans, but between Republicans and Democrats as well. Sit back and prepare for metaphoric fireworks.

Football Metaphors Out In Full Force!
In the midst of the play-offs, it should come as no surprise that CBS Money Watch runs an article comparing sales presentation preparation to an ESPN pre-game analysis. The five steps are “1. Do the Match-up Analysis 2. Know the Stats, 3. Identify the 1-2 Things to Win, 4.Calculate the Risks, 5. Understand the Game-Changers.” The world of sports is a popular source for metaphors. As long as the references are known to your listeners, they can be quite effective in communicating your message. If you follow football, check out this story.

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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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