Ways to Use Analogies for Effective Communication


by Lisa Illman

When Tom Hanks who starred in the movie, Forrest Gump, said, “My momma always said, “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” viewers could literally envision taking a half bite of a chocolate to find out what was in the middle. Comparing the unknown middle of chocolates to the unpredictable journey of life resonated with the masses and soon the quote ranked #40 in the American Film Institute’s list of the top 100 movie quotations in American cinema.  This is an example of using an analogy to effectively communicate an insightful notion.

Analogies, or using comparisons that resemble each other in some particulars between things otherwise unlike, can be a very effective tool to communicate a point, opinion or creative idea. With so many misunderstandings that get lost in translation, analogies can help a speaker to not only reel her listener in, but also successfully describe specific points. Three different situations that analogies can help effective communication include:


Selling Your Idea            

No matter if you are bringing a new product to market or trying to sell a group of Investors on your business, analogies can really help drive your idea home. A main product line can be described as “the meat and potatoes of the business” or “this product is really the bread winner of our line.”


Presenting a Business or Finance Plan

Finance plans can be one of the most important albeit driest presentations, a speaker can give. Consider sprucing up your presentation with catchy analogies such as “this service cost our business so much money, we ended up dropping it like a hot potato.” When explaining the reason for specific sales increase “this product line is really our low hanging fruit for the sales team” could be used.


Telling a Story

Story telling is a wonderful way to engage your readers or audience. Analogies can add drama to any story, such as “the storm was so intense, our boat was being tossed around like a crouton in a ceaser salad!”


Using analogies is a great way to grab audience attention and help connect the dots as a story unfolds. Even in problem solving groups, analogies can foster ideas, bridge gaps and put the pieces of a puzzle together. When using analogies, try to create your own or use ones that are not overused, especially in business. You might start a ‘catchy’ analogy phrase among peers and business contacts setting you apart from others and really standing out from the norm!




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3 Replies to “Ways to Use Analogies for Effective Communication”

  1. Patricia Weber

    Metaphors ARE terrific. And as long as the people you are speaking with or writing to understand what it is, you can gain clarify. Have you read the book by Anne Miller – The Tall Lady With The Iceberg: The power of metaphors to sell, persuade & explain anything to anyone? It is loaded with metaphors, ready to use and it gives you a process for creating your own if like me, on occasion, you aren’t finding what you need.

    Most relevant post. Thanks.

  2. Terry

    I have recently discovered your website and love it. Is there a link to the header “50 Women you should be following on Twitter”?

    1. Melissa Stewart

      Hi Terry! Yes, you can find the 2013 list here -> https://sheownsit.com/women-your-should-be-following-on-twitter/. We skipped 2014 but we’re back on track for 2015. We’re also in the middle of revamping the site so sorry for the links not working – pardon our dust!

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