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


Metaphor Minute: C-Suite Speak

The METAPHOR MINUTE Newsletter by Anne Miller

AUGUST 9, 2017

C-Suite Speak

There are many articles on “What” to talk about to C-suite executives. The advice usually boils down to stay away from details and product/service features and talk in terms of impact, stock price, and ROI. All well and good, but “How” do you talk to these senior people in a way that also makes you memorable?

Do What They Do

When you look at interviews with CEOs, their responses nearly always include a metaphor or analogy to underscore their points. That should not come as a surprise. These execs are paid to see and drive the future of their company. They may be good at detail also, but, by necessity, they have to be visual conceptual thinkers as well. They are in charge of the big picture, the long-term performance of their companies, and goals that may take years to achieve.

When CEOs talk, they instinctively reach for metaphor. For example,

  1. Elon Musk, CEO Tesla responding to a cancellation of 63,000 orders for his Model 3 car. The number of orders went from approximately 518,000 to 455,000.

    “Those cancellations occurred over the course of more than a year,” Musk said on the [analysts’] call. “I think [these numbers] are inconsequential. With a small amount of effort we can easily drive the Model 3 reservation number to something much higher but there’s no point. It’s like if you’re a restaurant and you’re serving hamburgers and there’s like an hour and a half wait for hamburgers, do you really want to encourage more people to order more hamburgers?”

    A simple analogy put into perspective what initially looks like a major setback for Tesla.
  2. Pedro J. Pizarro, CEO, Edison International, public utility holding company explaining his view of Leadership

    “I see a lot of people who want to be the hub, with their people, the spokes, bringing them information. My visual for leadership is that if the team is the wheel, I’m actually the rim. I’m not the center.”

    “My job is to keep the spokes together, keep the team together, and really help that team perform, because they, collectively, are going to have a lot more insights than I will. It also means that when you have to go through mud, the rim goes first. That’s the way it should be.”

    A simple metaphor that says volumes about what it must be like to work at Edison.
  3. Jesse Woolley-Wilson, CEO, DreamBox Learning, a provider of online math education software for children, describing the key to success for a start-up

    “In a start-up, you don’t know what tomorrow will bring, so you have to be constantly learning and be adaptive to your colleagues …for the team to really win….In the beginning, some people didn’t like it when I used that phrase [benevolent friction], because they felt friction is a negative thing and they didn’t want any friction with their colleagues.”

    “I would explain that if you don’t have pressure on the carbon, you never get to the diamond. You can still be very respectful, and assume everyone has a spark, but we have to subject our ideas to the toughest scrutiny because our work is important.”
    A strong image for companies when they are at their most vulnerable.

Bring Sweets to the C-Suite, Metaphorically Speaking

Leave your senior executives with a metaphor unique to your idea, service or product. Lists of facts and features are quickly forgotten, but an image is forever. A website graphic designer I came across years ago had one of the best metaphors I have ever heard. It is still with me. She said, “If content is the body of a website, design is its soul. We provide the soul.”

Be the one that resonates with C-Suite executives --use a metaphor.

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

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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

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Metaphor Minute Archives

Play The Metaphor Game to Build Business
Graduation Time is Here
What's in a (Strategy) Name
Metaphor: The Billion Dollar Differentiator
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"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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