Worried about presenting a complex idea at work? Fresh chilli can help. Oh yes.
We find it easier to think in visual images than abstract concepts. That’s why our everyday speech is littered with metaphors. We talk about sticking plasters and melting pots, lightbulb moments and emotional rollercoasters. Every metaphor triggers a mental image, and this can help us ‘see’ a complex idea.
Except… when your metaphor has gone stale. The more we’ve heard a metaphor, the less spark it strikes in our brain. As a metaphor becomes a cliche, like an ageing boxer, it loses its punch.
Same goes for the chilli metaphor: a cliche is stale old chilli powder from the back of the cupboard. You want to be cooking – and writing – with the fresh stuff.
Kill your cliches
Here’s how Storyteller Tactics can help you put fresh chilli in your next presentation.
1. Review your first draft. Find your cliches.
2. Reverse engineer the cliche, using Movie Time.
- What’s the meaning I’m trying to get across in this cliche?
- What new person, process or thing can I find with a similar meaning?
- What’s the vivid image associated with this new thing?
Let’s try an example:
Cliche: “Our tech support is just a sticking plaster on a gaping wound”
Meaning: we can’t meet the demand.
Reverse engineer: who or what else fails to meet demand? Black Friday sales, takeaway deliveries in a pandemic, Man United season tickets, power cuts after a storm…
Vivid image: “Our tech support team are trying to fix the power lines in a hurricane”
You get the idea. Kill your cliches, they are not an endangered species.
Storyteller Tactics used in this blog post: Secrets and Puzzles to come up with an intriguing headline.