How To Develop Impactful Metaphors

By Min Liu | Verbal Skills

Everyone knows by now that metaphors and figurative speech are tools to expand your verbal skills, persuasive abilities, influence, and even your charm. In this article and video, you will learn three steps to take a mediocre metaphor and transform it into a great metaphor.

The Power of Metaphor

For my holidays, I took a short vacation to Los Angeles.

While on my vacation, I met up with one of my closest friends of mine from law school who is now an equity partner at one of the most prestigious and largest law firms in the world.

Over dinner, she invited me to go back to Los Angeles next month to give a talk to her law firm’s associates, numbering a couple hundred associates just here in the United States.

Of course, I told her I would love to and would be honored to do that.

Being someone who’s always looking for a competitive edge, she asked me to develop a presentation to teach her associates how to radically improve their use of metaphor to become more influential with judges and juries.

Researchers have shown that metaphors allow you to make an end run around the obstacles, walls, and mental blocks that people put up against your arguments and persuasive attempts.

My law firm partner friend knows this and wants all of her associates to have this verbal superpower in their back pockets so they can kick more ass than they already do.

Even if you’re not a lawyer, becoming masterful with metaphor will allow you to become more influential, persuasive, and charming to the people in your life.

So, here is a preview of the talk that I’ll be giving to my friend’s law firm’s associates next month, called “How To Develop Impactful Metaphors”:

How To Develop Impactful Metaphors

Over dinner, my friend kept talking about how her “law firm was full of sharks”, complaining about the internal politics of her law firm and how stressful it is for her to deal with the various personalities, agendas, and backstabbers in her law firm.

This metaphor of a “law firm full of sharks” is one we’ve all heard before a thousand times.

Believe it nor not, even a top law firm partner like my friend easily reverts to uncreative speech frequently. And this is from someone who chews on and spits out other lawyers and their arguments daily.

Now, the metaphor she used is a little better than saying “my law firm is full of lawyers who will eat you for lunch”, but ultimately, it’s not much better because the metaphor is a cliche and nothing special.

So, how do we take this mundane and commonplace metaphor and make it special and memorable?

Step One: Make The Metaphor More Vivid/Detailed

The first step in reworking any mundane metaphor is to just make the metaphor more vivid and detailed. Most people just refuse to put any brainpower to the metaphors they use, so no excuses!

So, instead of “My law firm is full of sharks“, you can say “My law firm is a cesspool of sharks“.

Now, add the word “cesspool” makes the metaphor a little more descriptive and visual. But, the metaphor is still fairly weak, and nowhere near great.

Step Two: Make The Metaphor Even More Vivid (and Exaggerated)

The next step towards metaphor greatness is to take what you’ve got and make it EVEN MORE vivid and exaggerated.

Sometimes all this takes is to add more detail to what you already have.

So, instead of “My law firm is a cesspool of sharks“, you can say “My law firm is a cesspool of sharks walking upright, wearing suits, and carrying briefcases.

Or you can use the “Rule of Three” here as a technique and make the last item more absurd or exaggerated.

Instead of “My law firm is a cesspool of sharks walking upright, wearing suits, and carrying briefcases“, you can say “My law firm is a cesspool of sharks walking upright, wearing suits, and needing alcohol rehab badly“.

Now, the metaphor is starting to gain momentum towards greatness, but we’re still not done.

Most people who are good at metaphor stop here, and that’s okay if you want to be merely good, but if you want to be a “master of metaphor” and become great, you need to take it at least one step further.

Step Three: “Put The Metaphor Into Action”

The final step towards creating a tasty metaphor sausage from mere ground meat (see what I did there?) is to “put the metaphor into action”.

Instead of referring to a law firm as a static thing, restructure the entire metaphor by making it active.

Here’s what I mean by active: “Everyday at the law firm, I feel like a surfer being lowered into a cesspool of sharks who haven’t eaten in days, except instead of eating me, they eat my profits, my dignity, and suck my soul.

Making it “active” means adding ACTION to the metaphor. “Being lowered into a cesspool” and “eating profits, dignity, and sucking my soul” are the actions that this newly structured metaphor refers to.

By putting my friend as a character or actor within the metaphor and having things happen to her makes this metaphor much more dynamic.

Now we finally have a great metaphor!

Introducing “Master of Metaphor”

If you enjoyed seeing how the sausage is made, and you want to learn even more about making your own tasty “sausage”, then check out my course on figurative speaking/language, Master of Metaphor.

In Master of Metaphor, the only course of its kind that I know of and much more interesting than any English class you ever took in your life, you will learn advanced techniques to create amazing metaphors from mundane metaphors, and much much more.

When you become a “master of metaphor”, people will come to see you as a verbal god, much more charming, influential, memorable, and persuasive than the Average Joe.

Click HERE and sign up for Master of Metaphor now!

To get a free preview of Master of Metaphor and to be notified when it is available for purchase, click HERE.

Master of Metaphor Course


About the Author

Min Liu is a corporate lawyer, Amazon #1 bestselling author, the founder of The Art of Verbal War, where people learn to EXCEL in verbal skills, and in the words of his readers, he's the "big brother you never had".

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