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Concrete metaphor

 

Techniques > Use of language > Metaphor > Concrete metaphor

Method | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Use a concrete example or metaphor to illuminate a concept.

Pick something that is 'like' the idea that you are seeking to explain and is easy to grasp. A solid, concrete example is almost always a good way to do this. Make the presentation even more powerful by using a physical prop that you can show as the metaphor. Adding action to the physical prop, making use of it in some way, adds even further power.

Example

Illustrate the idea of diversity with a pencil and a pencil case full of different types of pens -- "with a pencil, I can do a nice sketch, but with this <emptying out the pencil case>, I can paint the world! We need to "

A business vision is described with a snap of the fingers -- "Customers get what they need, <snap> just like that"

Use an egg to describe the need for customer care -- "our customers provide us sustenance, but <drop the egg> they are fragile and need to be looked after"

Discussion

People often have difficulty understanding ideas, even when they seem perfectly clear to you. They do not have difficulty understanding concrete items where there is little opportunity for misunderstanding. The item thus provides a solid first step towards understanding your idea.

Physical items are even more concrete than words about the item. They focus attention and stimulate interest, especially if it is not immediately clear what you are going to do with the item. Actions likewise attract attention and enhance the concrete explanation.

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