Presentation Hack: Using Analogy
Whether you are conveying a message through lecture, webinar, blogging, tweeting, e-learning, workshop, or any other medium...how you tell the story matters.
Yes, a story.
And not necessarily a story with characters, plot, a beginning, middle, and end. But maybe just some sort of emotional imagery. And yes, characters do help!
People respond to emotional, relatable characters and situations. It's how we are programmed. But it's not necessarily intuitive to develop or identify these stories when we are presenting new, often complicated research, concepts, theories, or principles.
Effective imagery can compare or contrast. Especially to show contrast, I gravitate towards example and analogy.
What are some of the contrasting analogies I use?
- Caveman vs Professor
- Chess Player vs Sports Coach
- Charcoal BBQ vs Electric Smokers
- Potty Training vs Changing Your Own Diaper
- Adjustable Wrench vs Box Wrench
- Bull Shark vs Princess & the Pea
- Irrigated Grapevine vs Dry-Farmed Grapevine
- Swim Teams vs Social Groups
- Factory Workers vs Artists
- Medicine vs Policing
- Rule Followers vs Rule Breakers
- Card & dice games
- Ketchup popsicles & women wearing white gloves
- Police Explosive Breachers
- The Undertaker
- Ordering pizza for a group of strangers
- Crystal Balls & Time Machines
- ER physician attending police tactical school
Maybe I'm using a relaxed definition of analogy, but I think you get my point.
During my workshops, attendees are exposed to a collection of images and characters who hold certain traits, roles, personalities, mindsets, skillsets. Many of them are listed above. They allow attendees to quickly communicate robust concepts and principles through quick, relatable, memorable, emotional, and often humorous terms. (Like fake orgasms, for example.)
For me, this approach gets far better traction than pounding away at confusing, abstract theory, stuffy research projects, and academic gobbledegook. It's like bringing spunky tablecloths into the sterile science lab to cover the ugly tables.
(See what I did there?)
I want to hear from you about what analogies you've tried in your lectures, webinars, blogs, e-learning, and workshops. What success or failure did you perceive? Do you believe they helped in the learning experience of your audience, to connect ideas?
Aside from writing on a variety of topics, I publish a column of blog posts under the label Presentation Hack. Check them out for ideas, tips, and tricks to better public speaking or classroom experiences!
Lou Hayes, Jr. is a criminal investigations & intelligence unit supervisor in a suburban Chicago police department. With a passion for training, he studies human performance & decision-making, creativity, emotional intelligence, and adaptability. Follow Lou on Twitter at @LouHayesJr or on LinkedIn. He also maintains a LinkedIn page for The Illinois Model.