Using metaphors in public speaking can either make or break your speech. When delivered successfully, metaphors can enhance the message of your speech and impact your audience in endless ways. The metaphor becomes the vehicle by which your audience will apply your message to their own life. Metaphors have the means to make your message more persuasive, powerful and memorable. However, metaphors can be tricky too. If they’re too broad, they serve no overall purpose to your message, but if they’re too detailed they become too confusing and complicate the speech altogether.
Make sure you are using metaphors in the most influential way possible, so your audience walks away feeling moved by your message.
Make it relevant.
We’ve all learned how to cater our message to our audience, but make sure your metaphor is catered to your audience as well. First off, make sure your metaphor is current with the culture. Use metaphors that are relevant to the times in society to have the most impact on your audience. Next, consider the age and type of audience you’re speaking to. If your audience is relatively young, don’t use a metaphor that’s dated or old-fashioned. Be sure to pick one that will make the most sense in their young minds. On the other hand, if you’re speaking to an older audience make sure your metaphor resonates with them as well. Always pick fresh and original metaphors that your audience will best understand, and also remain current and accurate to the society and culture.
Make it specific, but not too confusing
The best metaphors are delivered in detail, but with clarity. Make sure you completely flesh out your metaphor throughout your speech but don’t focus too much on the nitty gritty details. You want your audience to understand the metaphor but pay more attention to your actual message. That being said, make a conscious effort to guide your audience step-by-step through the metaphor, so they don’t get lost in the details and lose focus on your message.
Make continual references to your metaphor.
Metaphors are most poorly executed when they’re only referenced once or twice throughout the entire speech. Don’t just introduce the metaphor at the beginning of your message and tie up loose ends with it at the end. Make sure to make continual references to it throughout your speech. Just as each new point you make in your message should build on top of the last, each new part of your metaphor should add and be built on top of the previous part. The most powerful and influential speeches apply a single metaphor multiple times throughout the message.
Follow these important tips when using metaphors in public speaking and you are bound to execute it with perfection!