anchor analogy

Why you should anchor your message with an analogy

by Elizabeth Toohig
in Blog
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Anchor your message

I recently delivered a workshop about the importance of the fourth element of my TREAT™ process: how to ANCHOR your message in the minds of your audience. If you don’t securely anchor your message in the minds of your audience, it will soon be forgotten.

At the end of the workshop, several of the attendees commented that they had not previously considered the power of using an analogy as an anchor. In this article, I share why using an analogy is one of the simplest and most powerful ways of anchoring your message.

Benefits of an analogy

I love a good analogy – I constantly use them in my talks, presentations and workshops. Perhaps it is the infant teacher in me that always seeks out ways to make a simple and clear connection between the experience of those I am speaking to and the ideas I want to share. This is exactly what an analogy does. The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘analogy’ as

a comparison between two things, typically for the purpose of explanation or clarification

When giving a talk, using an analogy is a clear and simple way to connect new knowledge with the current experience of your listeners. This is especially useful when explaining complex or abstract concepts. The best analogies will create a clear visual picture in the minds of your listeners. The speaker can further cement the analogy by using one clear and simple visual image in a slide presentation.

Salt & Shake Crisps

I was recently reminded about ‘salt & shake’ crisps. It’s something I had not seen for many years. From the outside, it looks like an ordinary packet of crisps. If you were to open it up and eat a crisp, it would taste bland, plain and boring. For most, the taste would not be enough to entice them to eat any more. However, if you seek out the little blue bag of salt, sprinkle it into the crisp packet and shake it, then the magic happens. Every crisp has a little coating of salt; fresh, tangy and delicious!

A good talk is just like a bag of salt & shake crisps. When you give a talk, your message is the salt, and your words are the crisps. You need to sprinkle your message onto everything you say. Just as you can taste but can’t always see the grains of salt on the crisp, so it should be with your words. You don’t directly repeat your message over and over again, but it is there underpinning all your points, illustrations and examples.

Short and simple

I would not go into so much detail if I was using this analogy in a talk. It needs to be condensed to just the essential elements. One or two sentences would then suffice:

Your talk needs to be like a packet of salt and shake crisps. Your message need to be sprinkled over everything you say. Not just the words at the start, but evenly distributed throughout the whole talk, right down to the final words.

3 elements of a good analogy

When preparing your next talk or listening to others speak, check for these 3 elements of a good analogy:

  1. Does it create a visual picture?
  2. Is it familiar to your listeners?
  3. Can it be explained in a short and simple way?

Drip feed

In our fast-paced world of information overload, saying something once and expecting your listeners to remember it does not work. Instead, think of the need to constantly ‘drip feed’ your message. Using different anchors for different points adds variety, creates connections and ensures that your message stays in the mind of your listeners long after you finish speaking.




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