Take your presentation from dull to dazzling
Have you ever sat through a presentation so boring that you could have sworn the clock was ticking backwards? If so, the speaker was probably making a fatal mistake in their choice of language.
Even the most fantastic things will lose their charm if described using words and phrases that are dull, unimaginative or simply uninviting.
For example, ask your friends if they want to go for ice cream and most of them will say “yes!”. But invite your pals out for some frozen food made with sweetened and flavoured milk fat, and you might be tucking into that scoop of Mint Chocolate Chip on your own.
Figuring it Out
Figurative language has long been used by storytellers to evoke vivid images and trigger authentic emotional responses in their audience. With the correct use of this powerful tool, you too can take your listeners on a journey instead of simply giving them information.
So, what is it? Figurative language is basically when you use a word or phrase in a way that is different to its literal meaning. For example, ‘Greg has a heart of stone’. You don’t really mean that Greg has a lump of rock in his chest; you are describing poor Greg as someone who doesn’t show any emotion.
Your Four Tools
There are 12 different types of figurative language, but unless you are revising for an English exam, using the following four should be enough to give you a silver tongue. (See how easy it is to sneak one in?
A simile compares two objects that are alike using words such as “like” or “as”. For example, “the cat was as fast as lightning” or “he was all over her like a rash”.
Pepper your presentation with similes that emphasize key points and bring descriptions colourfully to life.
A metaphor describes an object or action in a way that isn’t literally true but helps explain an idea or make a comparison.
For example, “the sun was a drop of burning gold” or “my heart’s a stereo”.
Use metaphors to explain complex concepts in a way that is relatable.
An analogy is a more elaborate comparison between two things that are quite different from each other. Think of it almost as a story in miniature.
For example, “life is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get” or “his advice was as useful as a chocolate teapot”.
Personally, I love flavouring my presentations with analogies that deepen the audience’s understanding of a topic.
An onomatopoeia is a word that brings to mind the actual sound of the thing it describes. For example, “splash”, “bang” or “tick tock”.
If you are of a certain age (like me) and grew up in the UK (me again!), then you might remember the British seatbelt safety advert that used “Clunk! Click! Every trip.” (If this was before your time, let me give you the following advice – always wear sunscreen).
Dull to Dazzling
Once you start thinking about figurative language, you’ll be amazed how much of it you already add to the words you speak and write on a daily basis.
Use it to spruce up your next presentation and let me know what a difference it makes!
To discuss more clever ways in which speakers can use language, comment below. Would love to hear your contribition on this subject.
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