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Analogies for Presentations: My Favorite Place to Find Them!

by Darren LaCroix

Stories and analogies are the tools of a great presenter. If this is true, then great presenters must always be seeking better stories and analogies to deliver their message. In previous issues of Stage Time, I've commented about finding personal stories all around you. But today I'd like to give you one of the secret places where I find analogies.

If you've seen me speak live or watched my DVD: The Path to Powerful Presentations, you've heard me use the analogy about how the war strategy of "Kamikaze Pilots" is just like the strategy for creating a solid presentation. It allows me to "anchor" the habit of "Craving Feedback." It is a powerful and memorable example.

Where did that analogy come from?

Well, before I give you the answer, I have to give you another analogy that I came across yesterday while working. I had the TV on in the background, and as I flipped though the channels, I heard the announcer say, "See how advances made in the Civil War are still being used in modern..." What? (OK, they had my attention!)

Have you noticed that getting and keeping an audiences' attention today is much tougher than it was ten years ago? Changes in the listening habits of adults is hard enough for a speaker... but it becomes even more obvious when you're speaking to a younger audience. They've grown up in a more chaotic world, with significantly more messages in front of them than you and I had while growing up.

Lesson #1 - The use of curiosity.

Did the announcer's statement above make you wonder what those Civil War advances could possibly be? Do you use curiosity in your presentations? If you don't, how could you do it? We need to get the audience to WANT to hear our presentation before we give it to them.

What are some of the advances mentioned in that TV program? Here are just a few:

  • USS Monitor had the first below-the- waterline "flush toilet"
  • The first "revolving" gun turret
  • "Rifling the chamber" of guns and cannons

This last example was the one that truly got me to sit up and pay attention. Picture in your mind... two Civil War soldiers in a field, with rifles aimed at each other. One rifle can shoot farther and with more accuracy. Does it matter which soldier is better? Wouldn't you want the better rifle? What is it worth to you?

On the TV show, they talked about how simply creating spiral grooves in the gun chamber had caused the bullet to have much greater distance and accuracy. This gave a huge advantage the side with the "best weapons." They could now shoot from a safer distance. Especially if their enemy doesn't have this kind of weapon. In modern war, it's now an essential tool.

What is your "best weapon" as a presenter?

Lesson #2 - The use of coaching.

With the economy the way it is -- and people getting pink slips more and more often -- presentations and the ability to present are more important now than ever. It can be a huge asset to your business career, and essential if you are a professional speaker. The people considered "best" in any industry are always in demand, no matter how the economy looks.

Now, picture two speakers being considered by meeting planner, or two presenters selling to a prospect. They can be equal presenters, but the one with the better weapons to "pitch" his or her idea will usually win.

Where can you find the best weapon, tool, or technique that will separate you from the pack? In the presentation world, it's coaching. Gaining advanced techniques from presentation coaches will help you create your own unique style so you can stand out above the rest. If you're serious, you'll see it as an investment and not an expense.

If you can't afford a personal coach, or an airline ticket and hotel to attend coaching boot camp, I'd like for you to check out: Own The Stage. You'll get the secrets that Craig and I give our coaching students without having to leave your home. The feedback has been amazing.

OK, so where do I find many of my analogies?

My secret... The History Channel. The show I was watching was Modern Marvels. They spend time, energy, and effort to dig up the most fascinating facts. The people on the TV shows do almost all of the work for you! Just pay attention, and see how the facts can apply to your topic. Many people watch these same shows, but because I'm passionate about teaching other presenters, I'm always looking for stories and analogies.

How about you?

About the Author

Darren LaCroix has travelled the road from rags to riches as failed Subway restaurant owner to award winning speaker - he's the Toastmasters 2001 World Champion of Public Speaking. As Darren said in his winning speech,

"After 4 years of business school I went for the American Dream. I bought ... a subway sandwich shop. You're all impressed - I can tell. I don't want to brag but I took a $60,000 debt and in six short months ... I doubled that debt. I turned my subway sandwich shop into a non-profit organization."

As you can tell, Darren's a humorist. He's also a film producer, speech coach, and professional speaker.

Learn how Darren proceeded from being the world's least funny man to a man who helps others learn how to be funny. Check out Darren's website, www.humor411.com, for newsletter articles and resources for better public speaking.

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