A great way to jazz up your presentation and make it resonate more with your audience is with metaphors.   In case it’s been a while since you’ve been in literature class, the definition of a metaphor, according to Wikipedia is:  a literary figure of speech that describes a subject by asserting that it is, on some point of comparison, the same as another otherwise unrelated object. Metaphor is a type of analogy and is closely related to other rhetorical figures of speech that achieve their effects via association, comparison or resemblance including allegoryhyperbole, and simile. Sounds great, yes?  More emotions, deeper communications, all good stuff.

Alas, the problem is that people frequently stick to whatever the first metaphor they think of is. In the case of growth that trees. A slightly more advance version of this extremely played out metaphor is:  seeds to trees. This is fine for a more literal audience or an audience where a metaphor is pushing communications boundaries in the first place.  But, for an audience that is more sophisticated, trees for growth just isn’t going to cut it!  So, in the interest of a more interesting metaphorical world, I’ve put together a list of other metaphors for growth beyond trees.  if you have other ideas to add, please comment!  And realize that not all of these metaphors work for every audience.  Always spot check your metaphors!

  • Stores opening
  • Bigger pants
  • A tape measure
  • Moving boxes or a moving truck
  • Something related to spiritual enlightenment (Buddha, New Age rainbows)
  • Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
  • Building materials (pile of bricks, tools, lumber, etc)
  • Larger hard-drives or server rooms ( more data)
  • Baby diapers or other baby gear
  • Kittens, puppies, or other small cute animals
  • Progression of the aging and enlargement of a person/animal/etc throughout the presentation
  • Buildings expanding in a city or around a city
  • Multiple icons that keep multiplying:  bunnies, people, cars, boxes, etc.
  • Phone ringing off the hook, email box stuffed, millions of Facebook likes (something to indicate overwhelming amounts of communication)
  • Showing something that is filled beyond capacity:  tree limb with too many birds on it, car full of too many clowns, shoe that’s too small, etc
  • Fat over the edge of a pair of pants
  • A woman with insanely long hair, like Rapunzel
  • A room filled to the brim with whatever is growing:  paper orders, baseballs, hand bag sales, etc
  • Nicer and nicer cars or other premium items throughout the presentation (more wealth, more opportunity to buy nice things)
  • Zygotes or eggs
  • Crib or other empty bed/space indicating that someone or something is coming
  • Empty warehouses, empty shelves, empty storage space
  • Fish too big for bowl, other animal too big for cage

Can you think of more?

Other metaphors covered in this series:  innovation, opportunity, leadership, and balance.