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


Metaphor Minute: Gear Up For Meetings


Apr 20, 2016

Gear Up for Meetings

What kids do for parties also works for your business meetings: create a metaphorical theme for the event. I recently attended such a conference where a metaphorical theme did double duty. It set the framework, focus, and tone for the meeting and it added a light, right brain touch to a very left brain topic. You might want to use this metaphor yourself for any number of situations.

Gearing Up for Change
The meeting was about choosing career and lifestyle options. Instead of a strictly correct, but boring, title like “Making Career Choices,” the topic was cast in a more engaging play on the theme of gears. For example, the welcome title slide, “Shifting Gears on Your Journey,” and its image (a racer taking a sharp turn on a curve), instantly caught us up in the feel and meaning of the entire program.

Actual variously shaped gears were part of the centerpiece at each table reinforcing the metaphor and becoming conversation pieces as well. All topics were linked to shifting gears. Written promotion for the sponsor (a wealth management company) extended the theme, offering services that would allow clients to "safely shift into another gear for the next destination on your journey." Each circle on the gear of their written promotion card contained relevant action options that a potential client might take: push through, coast, climb, accelerate, and hydrate.

The gear metaphor was clever without being overdone and contributed to the overall successful experience of the event

Beyond Conferences

The gear metaphor can be used in many different situations. For example, it can be used

  • To liven up a weekly sales meetings: Check Your Gears
  • To capture attention in a new business presentation: Gearing Up for Success at XYZ
  • To announce changes in strategy , processes, organizational structure: Shifting Gears to …Increase market share…Improve operations…Beat competition

Your use of the gear metaphor —or any metaphor—is limited only by your imagination.


Op-Ed pages in your local paper are metaphor gold mines. In how many ways could you use this metaphor (analogy) from a recent New York Times article in your world?

In “Learning Lessons From Outrage,” an analysis of lessons learned for the Republicans about the current turmoil in their party, Republican pollster Frank Luntz is quoted:

"Republicans didn't listen. They didn’t hear the anger because they spent too much time in Washington and not enough in the rest of America. The Republican finance people, the donor class, they didn't see it and didn't hear it, and by the time they did, it was too late" Luntz compared it to a horror film: "You know something's out there, but you don't see it until you're getting stabbed."

What, like a horror film, is slowly building in your world, your company, or your client's world that will suddenly stab people because they don't, or refuse to, see, it? How can your services, products, ideas prevent that disaster?

Anne Miller
Make What You Say Pay! — with Metaphors


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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. © 2016. Anne Miller. -- PERMISSION TO REPRINT -- Feel free to reprint in company newsletters or articles. Just include ©2015, Anne Miller, author, "Metaphorically Selling,"
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