Analogy, illustrations, stories and examples are powerful ways to punch up your speech. They can stir the emotions, stimulate thinking, persuade a change in thought and motivate to action. Because of the way our minds work, they are a great tool to enable the audience to remember the speech.
It is believed there is a relationship between analogy and the mental functions and processes such as, comprehension, inference, decision-making, planning and learning.
Human cognition which includes the capacity of abstraction, generalization, specialization and reasoning is the foundation of the creation of analogy in speech.
Here are five types.
Here we will only deal with parables, exemplification, and allegories as types of analogies, word illustrations, or examples.
Analogies, illustrations, and examples can be from life or fiction. They work best if they have some emotional or spiritual significance and reach the intellect of the listeners. They go beyond logic in motivating and persuading.
How many times have any of us done something that was not logical.
Emotions on the other hand have greater power to move individuals. If both intellect and emotions are addressed, you have a one-two punch that will help you succeed in your public speaking.
The analogy can start at the introduction and be woven through the talk or it can be used as an explanation of a point to be reinforced.
Should draw the listener in
In the best instances, the speaker is able to draw each individual in the audience into the analogy or illustration so that a personal connection or relationship is made to the characters of the illustration.
If inanimate objects are used, these have to have a relationship to peoples every day life, desires, longing, or resolves.
For instance talking of how each of us can be like a brick of gold will have little meaning to most. Outside of pictures, most have never seen nor will never own one.
On the other hand describing how we can become even more precious to our marriage mate and our family by our persistent loyalty could be likened to the formation of a diamond.
Take a piece of coal, put pressure on it and in time that frail lump will become something durable, beautiful and priceless. So to in marriage, if we endure the stress and continue to allow it to make us better, we will become even more precious to our mates.
Listener should be able to relate
The analogy involved diamonds, coal, pressure and a moral. The elements most are familiar with.
To incorporate analogies, illustrations and examples in a speech requires some basic ground rules to prevent them from overwhelming or losing their import.
I heard a wonderful illustration about the harm of gossip over two decades ago. It told of how someone had been spreading a story about someone to all in the community. Upon hearing what was being said about him, the old man who was the subject of the gossip went to the person who started it and kindly explained the truth of the matter.
The gossiper was cut to the heart. The emotions tore at this person so much so that they asked what could they do to make it up, to make things right.
The old man suggested to the gossiper to take his feather pillow and go to the top of the World Trade Center. Then take a knife and cut it through. “Cut it from one side to the other on the end” he kindly made the request and then after a pause that seemed like an eternity he continued, ...Then I would like you to take the feathers and shake them out in the wind. Shake a little on each side. A little here, a little there...
...Once you have completed your task, and each and ever feather is gone, then I would like you to go and pick them all up....
The gossiper said that would be impossible to do. The old man said, ...Likewise, it is impossible for you to do anything more for me for because of what you have already done.
Perhaps instead, you could make sure you never let any feathers out of a pillow belonging to anyone else....
If you have ever had someone say something untrue or even hurtful about you, then this illustration will have a special meaning to you. If you have ever been wrong about someone in something you said, this will no doubt move you to use care in talking about others outside their presence.
Care must be exercised otherwise the analogy will be remembered but not the persuasive or motivational purpose of the speech. The illustration needs to be on purpose and on point. Avoid needless details that detract from the purpose you hope to accomplish.
Illustrations or analogy need to be appropriate.
They need to be readily understandable by the audience.
Use care that they would not embarrass anyone or demean any one in the audience.
If you invest the time in learning how to create analogies, illustrations, and the like, the dividends will pay you handsomely. This is because the power they have to move the audience beyond just words alone.
Use Analogies, Examples, Illustrations and Stories wisely and you will be well on your way to Speechmastery.
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