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


Metaphor Minute: Play the Metaphor Game & Build Your Business

The METAPHOR MINUTE Newsletter by Anne Miller

JULY 13, 2017

Play the Metaphor Game
to Build Business

Summer is frequently a slow time in business, but it is also an opportunity to re-evaluate where you are, where your business is going, and what you need to do to continue your growth, not only into the second half of the year, but beyond as well. One option is to have a very left brain, analytical, bring-out-the-spreadsheets meeting with your team, OR you can run the more creative 60-90 minute right brain Metaphor Game below to help you decide future strategies.

You will discover that the Metaphor Game is fun, easy, and incredibly powerful.


  • To generate fresh thinking about the elements of your business
  • To identify any necessary changes in direction, resources, & strategies
  • To build consensus for how to drive business going forward


  • Assemble your sales team in a comfortable meeting room.
  • Make the environment as relaxed as possible. Have an ample supply of snacks and sodas handy. You may even want to have some cool background music playing.
  • Give each person a sheet of 9x12 blank paper and a new box of crayons (two people can share a box).
  • Have flip-chart paper around the room: 1 labeled Relationship, 1 labeled Competition, 1 labeled Environment.


  • Tell the group they are going to take an unusual approach to planning business strategies for the next 6 (12, 18) months. Part of this approach will involve drawing pictures and then presenting those pictures to the rest of the group. (When you get pushback about not being able to draw, tell them that the exercise does not require any artistic ability. Whatever they draw will be just fine.)
  • Ask them to draw a picture that contains the following elements (15-20 min):
    • Their client relationship
    • The competition
    • The business environment
  • Tell them they can make their pictures as abstract or as realistic as they wish. (Expect some initial skepticism, but then notice, how with a little thought, people really get into their drawings! There is something irresistible to our inner child about a fresh box of crayons that makes us want to take them out and use them.)

Presenting Their Results

  • When everyone has finished, have people present or describe their pictures to the group
  • As each person does that, have someone at each flipchart write down whatever metaphors or images are mentioned on their appropriate page. For example, if someone drew a jungle for the environment, the scribe responsible for the Environment flipchart would write jungle on the page.
  • When everyone is finished, you will have three lists of images that become the basis for a lively discussion, (You will be surprised at how differently people “see” the three elements of your business and what that means for how they sell. For example, a rep who sees the environment as a jungle vs. one who sees it as a puzzle will approach clients and business very differently. Someone who draws the client relationship as two people walking off into the sunset vs. someone who draws clients as dollar signs will sell very differently.) Suggested questions:
    • How do/should we see our relationship with clients?
    • What does that mean for our sales process?
    • Do we agree? (They won’t)
    • Has that relationship changed over time?
    • What can we expect in the future?
    • What is the most accurate metaphor that describes the business environment? (Expect widely disparate views)
    • What does that mean for how we have to ready ourselves to sell in the future?
    • What do we need to change, if anything?
    • What different resources do we need?
    • How do we see our competition? (Again, you will get different responses)
    • What should we be doing differently to win over them?

    I have seen sales people practically fight to the death to defend their pictures, which, in effect, reflect their view of the business world, their clients, and how they sell. Hashing out the meaning and implications of these images however will lead to a stronger sales process for everyone.

    Happy Drawing!

    Anne Miller
    Make What You Say Pay! — with Metaphors.

    If you like these newsletters, please share them with clients,
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"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.

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Metaphor Minute Archives

Graduation Time is Here
What's in a (Strategy) Name
Metaphor: The Billion Dollar Differentiator
Mind Opening Metaphor
Sharks, Ships, Snakes & Cakes

Links I like

Great Resources:


Metaphors in the News

As someone who believes metaphors and analogies are the most irresistible tools you can use to make a point, it is hard not to notice some of the more original ones that crop up daily describing current events. Political views aside, how can you not want to read more after this opening from reporter Michael D’Antonio:

“Consider the Komodo dragon. A hairless creature with thin lips, beady eyes and the hint of a smirk on its face, it stalks animals many times its size. A dragon attack often ends with the prey dashing away with barely a scratch. The tiniest nip, however, is enough to deposit a few drops of dragon saliva and start an infection. After a slow death, the dragon feasts.

The example of the Komodo lizard suggests a compelling political metaphor for our time”.

Need A Winning Metaphor For Your 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,

 "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,"
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