Fit Focus Flair

Lesson 5: Use the simple metaphor to help… learn Jeremy Clarkson’s only trick

Metaphor is a fundamental tool of the English language. Without it, meaning would suffer because we would be left with flat description not vivid pictures in words. A metaphor makes a link between previously unlinked things. This linking can add meaning, and depth to our understanding of the world.

When Mrs Thatcher, the UK’s formidable first lady Prime Minister, was first called the “Iron Lady” many people laughed because the word “iron” is used metaphorically. To some iron represents fearlessness, to others heartlessness, for some it represented her principles and for others her lack of them. This metaphor stuck because it allowed people to say so much about their subject in a simple phrase. Well-worn examples of metaphor:

  1. A trail of broken dreams
  2. Someone or something falling at the first hurdle
  3. Shareholders crying foul
  4. Lloyds TSB gobbling up Royal Bank of Scotland
  5. Heavy-handed asset strippers

Use simile too, she’s metaphor’s more direct sister and we know and love her as a natural part of our language, for simile is another version of metaphor. The difference though is that in a simile the comparison between two things is direct, and is often signified by the use of phrases like “like a” and “as if…” Common examples of similes include…

  1. To follow like a lamb to the slaughter
  2. To laugh like a drain
  3. To look like grim death
  4. To swear like a trooper

With a bit of thought you can invent your own for great and memorable phrases, remember Jeremy Clarkson  has built his career out of this single skill.

Read the final lesson of this series here.

This is a part of my Fit, Focus & Flair model. To be great, a presentation must be a perfect FIT for the situation; the content must have complete FOCUS on it’s purpose and message; and it must have enough FLAIR to stand out on the day, and in our memories. Learn more about developing your Fit, Focus and Flair.

Jim Harvey

Jim Harvey

Managing Director at The Message Business
Jim is the MD of The Message Business, a company which helps FTSE 100 companies to sell themselves, and their products better. Speech writer, Prezi trainer and designer, coach and consultant, Jim also finds time to be a proud father and husband.
Jim Harvey


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