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Mastering the Metaphor: The Next Level of Communication

Updated: Aug 23, 2023

The metaphor is a well-known literary technique, but it is often underestimated outside of storybooks and fairy tales. The reality is that the power of metaphors prevails across all mediums of communication, opening doors to greater opportunities when used correctly.

The greatest thing by far is to have mastered the metaphor.” - Aristotle

Metaphors prove particularly effective in communicating difficult concepts and new ideas as well as being beneficial tools for creating emphasis, focus or adding humour to otherwise arduous explanations. To be able to take one idea and link it to another in a way that unlocks others’ imaginations is a skill and recent psychological research has worked to uncover the mechanisms which allow metaphors to be so powerful.

So, what does the research suggest?

1. Your audience will find it easier to understand

Using a metaphor for storytelling can aid in breaking difficult concepts into bitesize chunks which can be more easily digested by any group. The use of imagery allows you to help them visualise concepts in a way that facilitates connections and make the previously intangible appear tangible. For example with team development.

2. Your audience will be more engaged

By drawing these connections, you can also relate your topic to something your audience really cares about. This creates empathy, allowing you to truly captivate people’s attention and help them relate to what you are saying. When people can relate to the message you are communicating, they are more likely to get on board and want to take action.

3. Your audience is more likely to retain the information

Activating people’s imagination encourages them to create mental images which are much more memorable than an ordinary sentence. Furthermore, brain imaging research shows that hearing metaphors engages more parts of the brain than literal language, such as those associated with sensory responses. This contributes to the idea of ‘bringing a concept to life’ which makes the information more likely to be retained.

4. Your audience will feel more positively about your ideas

When our emotions are engaged and we can form an image of a concept we are more receptive to new proposals and more easily persuaded. Research shows that metaphors can also create feelings of pleasure and relief which will be subconsciously associated with your concept, enhancing persuasion efforts.

Metaphors hold such power because behind the literary technique lies several psychological effects. They have been used for decades by the most powerful communicators, such as Martin Luther King, William Shakespeare and Winston Churchill. They allow you to create clarity, empathy, importance and a positive affinity which are instrumental for negotiations, persuasion and communication.

We can all think of examples of a metaphor that has really hit home for us and others that have completely missed the mark, perhaps leaving us more confused than before. This is because there is a science behind creating metaphors that are inspiring. If you’d like to find out how you can yield the power of the metaphor, come along to our next espresso session!

Mastering the Metaphor: The Next Level of Communication is taking place at 08:30-08:50 GMT on 16/11/22 and will be hosted by Ian Connaughton. Ian is an executive coach, facilitator and actor who will guide you on the importance of the metaphor in creating shared understanding, influence and negotiating as well as sharing techniques that you can use to harness the metaphor in your communications.

Our espresso sessions are a FREE opportunity to engage in some self-development, offering a taste of the longer sessions that we have on offer at Designed4Success. We work with individuals, teams and provide one-on-one coaching at all levels, specialising in leadership development, change management and all aspects of organisational development.

Missed this session?

Don't worry we have plenty of upcoming espresso sessions with great tips for leadership development, team development, professional growth and effective hybrid working.

See what events are coming up here.


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