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


Metaphor Minute: Sharks, Ships, Snakes & Cakes


Feb 15, 2017

Sharks, Ships, Snakes, & Cakes

Ray Bigger and his team call themselves “The Productivity Architects,” which should immediately alert you to their appreciation for the power of metaphoric language to influence and persuade rather than forgettable language like “Executive and Team Development Consultants.” Indeed, the Architect metaphor is woven throughout their website.

Singapore based, with an impressive client list that ranges from Oracle to Burberry, Ray shared a number of metaphors with me that he uses in his management and sales development work to re-shape client’s thinking and create change in individuals, teams, and companies. Here are four that you might adapt to your work.

Blood in the Water

Management consulting often uncovers serious problems within an organization. Understandably, managers are not always willing to hear how bad things are. In
fact, they sometimes default to defensive explanations as to why a situation is the way it is. When that happens, Ray pulls out a gut punch metaphor to get the client to re-focus and take action. In one case, he told a senior manager, “Look, you are swimming in shark infested waters here! Your team is dysfunctional and split and, if you don’t take any action, there will be blood in the water very soon, not only for you, but for the company, and its share price as well.”

Ray says, “That usually snaps them out of their defensiveness, gets them to see the issues through a different lens, and then we can begin work on the recommended corrective measures.

Cast Off!

However, consulting isn’t always about surfacing problems. Consulting often uncovers opportunities as well, but visions without action is just daydreaming. In one instance, Ray was counseling a mid-level manager who was fearful of moving on to a more senior, more visible job opportunity. After presenting the case for accepting the job, and seeing that the manager was still wavering, Ray clinched his argument by saying, “You will never discover new horizons if you never leave the shore.

The magnitude and resonance of the opportunity metaphor ultimately eclipsed the client’s apprehensions and he accepted the job.

When They Go Low…

It can be very tempting to accept business from questionable clients. After all, revenue is revenue. Right? Wrong. What is a questionable client? One who is itself in a suspicious business, one who deals badly with its clients, one who thinks nothing of maximizing your services and then demands that you lower your fees, etc.

“This dilemma doesn’t happen often, but when it did,” Ray said, he asked his client, “Why do you want to do business with someone who has morals lower than a snake’s stomach?

Cast in that light, Ray’s client eventually saw the folly of continuing to work with that client and ended the relationship.

Having Your Cake & Eating it as Well - Not

Finally, in the age of the acceleration of just about everything, clients often want to cut corners on a process to get a project done more quickly. After Ray explains the downside of doing that and the client is still pushing for speed, Ray has said, “What you are asking for is rather like expecting to bake an award-winning cake by leaving out 50% of the recipe. Can’t be done.

That usually ends the client’s unrealistic demand for short-cutting a project.


These examples reflect Ray’s understanding of the power of crafted* metaphors/analogies to

  • Create a new lens for how someone “sees” an issue
  • Stimulate fresh thinking
  • Achieve a different outcome.

What lens do you need to change to advance your causes, your business, or your career?


Anne Miller
Make What You Say Pay! — with Metaphors

Random Recommendations
* High Stakes Metaphors: Casual? Crafted? Or Creative?
My latest post on LinkedIn explores three levels of metaphors you can use when you need to sell, influence, persuade, or explain anything to anyone.

"The Same Show, but a Changed World"
If you are a John Olivor fan as I am, you will enjoy this print interview with the late night TV host. From a “Metaphorian” point of view, notice how many metaphors he uses – no surprise since comedy, like metaphor-making, is about making unexpected connections to make a point.

Need to Craft or Create a Winning Presentation or Demo?
Call today for individual coaching or team workshops and learn how to turn information that tells into a story that sells. 212-876-1875 

"Anne and I recently worked together on a speech I gave at a large conference. She helped me turn a series of somewhat interesting points into an expertly crafted, compelling and actionable story. Together, we built a storyline with attention-grabbing headlines. We worked and re-worked the 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,

If you like these newsletters, please share them with clients, colleagues and friends! Thank you.
Tell me about YOUR Metaphor Minute, a time you used a metaphor or an analogy to make your point, overcome an obstacle, close a sale, or wow an audience, and receive a signed copy of The Tall Lady or Make What You Say Pay!. Simply call me at 212 876 1875 and tell me what you did or email me at

If someone emailed you this copy of The Metaphor Minute, sign up now to get your own copy.
(and be sure to "white list" to be insure delivery)

Links I Like:

Great Resources:

"The best arguments
dazzle with metaphor"

Gerry Spence,
Media Commentator & Lawyer

The Original “Metaphorically Selling” that spawned a movement, now with 25 New Stories.  Available in print, ebook & (new) audiobook formats.
Click here

7 Signs You Need A Metaphor (Visual Language)

  1. Your listener is not paying attention
  2. Your listener is stuck on an objection
  3. Your listener is confused
  4. Your listener sees no difference between you and your competition
  5. You want to drive home a point vividly and memorably
  6. You have to wiggle out of a difficult situation
  7. You want to wow or motivate a larger audience

The best firms hire brilliantly
& train relentlessly.

Having a Meeting? 
Call today for fresh ideas to take your team to the next level 212-876-1875 or

"I've been to a lot of training programs and yours was the best!"
 -CRO, MediaMath

MetMetaphor Minute Archives

View A Recent Video

The Key to Persuasion,
Clarity & Understanding

7 Ways to Capture a
Prospect's Attention

Written with pal and Sales 2.0 guru Nigel Edelshain

Fight The Noise
- Make Your Point

"Smart & Easy to Read"
"Incredibly Timely"
"Must have if you influence or persuade anyone"
Free Preview or
Buy Now

Official Training Partner

The IAB is dedicated to the growth of the interactive advertising marketplace

 "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. © 2017. Anne Miller. -- PERMISSION TO REPRINT -- Feel free to reprint in company newsletters or articles. Just include ©2017, Anne Miller, author, "Metaphorically Selling,"
You are subscribed at:[[-Email-]] - to unsubscribe, click here
©2018 Chiron Associates New York, NY 212-876-1875