I love words. I love to read and write. I was an English major for a reason.
As I implied in that post, it’s important to know how to use language to engage emotion. However, you also need to know when to use a particular tool and when to leave it in the box.
I used to work with a very successful CEO and CMO who would both, when feeling feisty, smack down any use of metaphor or simile in a presentation.
- “We’re trying to put ten pounds in a five pound bag”
- “Support is drowning in priority one issues”
- “Everything is coming up roses and these are our salad days”
I can still hear “just say what you mean!” in the back of my head.
- It is incredibly disconcerting to be forced out of flow and into analyzing your own sentences while you deliver them, so the lesson sticks
- The English language is just dripping in simile and metaphor (￼see what I did there)
- It’s good advice. A metaphor is assuming that your entire audience shares your level of knowledge and your set of opinions
Say you want to distinguish the capabilities of two teams. You might use a metaphor like medical specialists or sports positions. Is it truly going to land? Or are you just trying to find a way to soften a message that you’re afraid to say?