When you are presenting, analogies can be a great way generate interest and provide perspective. When chosen and delivered well, they help the audience to quickly understand your complex idea or solution.
The key words there are when chosen and delivered well.
Here are some on tips to selecting and using an effective analogy:
1. The analogy takes something the average person (like your Grandma) can understand
2. That provides a benefit they value
3. Describes similar benefits for the audience if they us something like [the analogy]
4. The analogy is from outside the audience's industry or role (this is more interesting)
5. It would be hard for a rational person to argue with the analogy & benefit
6. Don't go into too much detail... make your point quickly (target one minute)
Do that and you will have chosen wisely.
We teach how to effectively use analogies in some of our workshops.
But sometimes there is 'user error' in application 'out in the wild' and it scares corporate storytellers from trying them again. If this has happened to you, don't get discouraged.
Here are some bad applications we've seen (and ways to avoid them):
A. The analogy went way too long (keep it under a minute!)
B. The analogy had way too much detail (make your point, move on!)
C. That particular audience was not receptive (this can happen, especially if presenting to a strong analytical personality. reduce the risk by keeping an analogy short)
D. The analogy just didn't make sense (present it to someone else & get their feedback)
E. The presenter didn't practice delivering that analogy until they could give it in their sleep (don't skimp on practice, especially for analogies and other framing methods)
F. The presenter used too many analogies in one presentation (mix up your frames!)
Avoid these pitfalls and you won't hear:
Here's an oil & gas industry example of an effective analogy:
Almost everyone has smoke detectors in their home even though they have never experienced a house fire. That's because while the risk of fire may be low, the effects are catastrophic. We are willing to spend a little extra money and change out batteries every six months to keep our family and home safe. What if you had something like a smoke detector when it came to identifying pressure problems while drilling an oil well? Wouldn't you be able to reduce not just the catastrophic risk of a blowout but economic risks like stuck pipe or fluid loss? To do that, you need something like [the service I'm here to talk about today].