10 Advanced Business Metaphors to Create Vivid Stories Through Presentations (Part 2)
When you step up on the stage, you are no less than a star celebrity with the spotlight shining on you. All eyes turn to you and the projector screen as you begin narrating your story. Even when you are not on stage but in a conference room full of stakeholders and/or colleagues, you are still the star attraction. All eyes are transfixed on you. You desperately wish that your presentation clinches the big deal or wins the confidence of the management. You also wish to deliver a flawless presentation that keeps the audience glued to their seats.
That is all so metaphorical. How do you make it a reality? By using metaphors. A metaphor is a figure of speech which makes an implied comparison. They can be as simple and commonly used as phrases like fishing for compliments, raining money, heart of gold, etc. or more advanced as Petyr Baelish’s famous quote in Game of Thrones, “Chaos isn’t a pit. It’s a ladder.”
Metaphors make boring exciting and take the listener or the viewer on a journey of imagination or a trip down some memory lane. Metaphors have the power to fulfill the core need of an audience — to quench their thirst for knowledge and enjoy listening to a good story.
Let’s look at it with an example. You want the management to pay attention to a long standing problem. You begin with your metaphorical speech, “Let’s address the elephant in the room — our competitor is biting into our market share.” You grab everyone’s attention and make them imagine an elephant in the room and a rabid dog (your competitor) biting you ferociously. You have successfully taken their attention away from their phone screens and into your presentation. That’s the magic of a metaphor.
In our last post, we showed you 10 most common business metaphors in presentations that you were probably already using. In this post, we will share some advanced metaphors to help you paint your presentation canvas with vivid stories. Let’s set the ball rolling…
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10 Advanced Business Metaphors to Create Captivating Slides
Business Metaphor #1- Mending the Fences
Occasional sparring among team members, miscommunications, and personality clashes can often derail the progress of a company. Efforts have to be made to mend the fences (improve relationships damaged by disagreement). Businesses and partners can also fall out over petty disagreements. However, collaboration and give and take is the cement that holds the teams together. Iron out the differences and stress on team building. Mending fences metaphor also brings to mind Robert Frost’s poem where he satirically says “Good fences make good neighbours.”
Business Metaphor #2 — Building Bridges
Similar to mending fences is building bridges between two opposite people or groups. Businesses have to continually engage in building bridges with environmental groups, citizens, political groups, and so on. Internally too, organizations have to work upon building bridges and not walls. Open give and take amongst all is a must to encourage exchange of ideas and push all to work towards the best interests of the company.
Business Metaphor #3- Weed Out
Challenges, conflicts, and minor problems crop out time and again. The challenges could be external — government regulations, legal, tax policy, competitive rivalry, etc. or internal such as employee turnover, disengaged staff, and so on. Handling these challenges is one thing but weeding it out from the roots is another. The latter shows your resolve to remove it from the roots so that it does not bug you again. Employ this metaphor to show your determination to tackle challenges.
Business Metaphor #4- Low Hanging Fruit
This is a very common metaphor used in business meetings. Every business wants fast results. Sales reps want to reach their targets quickly. Managers want quick sales. The focus is, therefore, always on the low-hanging fruit (something that is very easy to achieve). Employ the same metaphor in all business presentations on targets, project management, customer acquisition, marketing growth, and so on to stress that these have to be grabbed at all costs.
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Business Metaphor #5- Smooth Sailing
Can running a business be smooth sailing? Probably, no. The boat is bound to be rocked sooner or later by tough conditions. But we can strive towards that goal. Good sailors know how to navigate the rough waters. Businesses have to be ready for any stormy weather too. One can smoothly sail out of tough situations by planning in advance and with timely, strategic execution.
Business Metaphor #6- Lifeblood of Business
Money makes the world go round. In business, working capital is called the lifeblood. It refers to the resources available to an organization to run its day-to-day operations. A high-level of working capital helps a business expand its operations and market itself effectively.
Some business pundits call customer service the lifeblood of a business as a happy, satisfied customer keeps returning and becomes a brand advocate helping you get more business. Whatever your take on what the lifeblood of a business is, it sure is the apt metaphor to describe the most important pillar of your business. See, pillar is another metaphor. That’s the beauty of words. It is an inexhaustible source of metaphors.
Business Metaphor #7- Cancer of Business
This is a very strong metaphor and should, therefore, be used when you want the management to pay full attention to an issue that can be the death of your business. It could be the bad customer reviews, disgruntled employees, or internal work politics. Just like detection of cancer at an early stage can help the patient win the war against this deadly disease, business problems detected at an early stage could be uprooted before it cripples the entire business.
Metaphors in this case can highlight the gravity of the situation and make people open their eyes and ears to your message. That is the purpose of your presentation and the hallmark of an effective communicator.
Business Metaphor #8- Rudder of the Ship
Previously too, we compared business to a boat and the business journey as a journey on a sea or an ocean. Taking inspiration from the same, business strategy can be compared to the rudder of a ship. The short-term and the long-term strategy outlines the direction the business shall take. Without a strategy, you may end up at a destination you never wanted to reach! The outdoor visual of sailing and ships also lend excitement to an otherwise dull presentation.
Business Metaphor #9- Light at the End of a Tunnel
This metaphorical expression is very useful for consultants to help an organization come out of their limitations and tunnel vision into the light and embrace the opportunities outside. It is also apt for motivational speakers and business coaches to help professionals visualize their current situation and figure out the walls built around them. Motivate your audience to move forwards towards the light and embrace change.
Business Metaphor #10- Hit the Home Run
Sports can be a useful source for analogies. Baseball, for instance, has exciting analogies very useful for the presenter. Pitch — throwing of a ball towards the opposing batsman — is so commonly used in business language. Every presenter is pitching an idea before the audience.
Hitting the home run is another exciting metaphor we can use in our presentation. As you know, it means hitting the ball into the crowd or out of the stadium so that the hitter has time to run through all the bases and reach home. In business terms, it implies a very successful operation or project. Add excitement and action to your slides by just a metaphor!
A metaphor is your magic wand. You can turn a mundane, run-of-the-mill slide into a fresh, entertaining story with the right metaphor. It also shows the creative aspect of your personality and your ability as a storyteller. All great presenters are storytellers. Steve Jobs used analogies to make Apple such a beloved brand. Start noticing metaphors around you and in the written materials you read. You’ll soon find yourself swimming in an ocean of metaphors! Sorry, there we go again!
It’s your turn to roll the dice. Which other metaphor pops up in your mind? Show off your metaphorical skills by putting it down in the comments below. Let the metaphor marathon begin!