Talk in pictures. If you want other people to understand your message or vision, your need to apply pictures to your words.

People often ask me what the best way to communicate their vision is. How to make themselves be heard and understood with the least effort. And unless you’re the type of person who just instantly grab a whiteboard marker and start drawing – I suggest that you start to speak in mages.

Your brain is visual

You need to use a language that creates mental images in the mind of your recipient. Because whether you like it or not, the human brain prefers emotions over logic – and it prefers images rather than words!

And you can actually create great resonance with your recipient by using cognitive metaphors or analogues in your spoken language and in your writing language.

Cognitive metaphors and analogues

As Anne Miller writes in “The Tall LadyWith The Iceberg”: Metaphors are similar to type 0 blood. If you have a supply on hand, you can handle any hemorrhage.

(Miller, Anne, The Tall Lady With The Iceberg, Chiron Associates, New York, 2012, p. 26).

Metaphors are like music. In a split second, they can transport your recipient into a world of feelings and understanding.

Cognitive metaphors are used to describe something unknown using a well-known bodily experience. That way, you create a specific mental image within your target audience. Eg. “she sprinted down the road with her stroller”. By using the word sprint, the recipient receives a picture of the way she runs and how fast.

Analogues give your receiver a picture of aspect ratio and perspective. An analogy is a kind of comparison of two things that immediately look different, but that still have similarities. An example could be: “Do we speak fast like a cheetah or fast as a red Ferrari?”

The mental scrapbook

The human brain remembers everything in small bites, images, scents and emotions.

Do you know that feeling you get, when you listen to one of your favorite songs from when you were a teenager? In a split second you’re transported back to your youth old room, right?

We all have different memories in our scrapbooks. What you need to do is speak into your recipient’s book of memories.

In a good old-fashioned academic language we’re talking about “preunderstanding” or preconceptions.

It’s all a matter of perception. Seeing the world through your own eyes with all your own preconceptions and your own perception. We all do that. And it colors the way we see and understand the world and the people in it.

Archetypes of storytelling

And while each of our scrapbooks look different to others, there are always similarities between people. That is why some types of stories (archetypes) resonate with many people. Stories such as the good against evil or the classic development history.

You can read more about archetypes of storytelling here.

Emotions are not trendy in corporate communication

In fact, most of us have already become so used to using metaphors in our everyday communication that we hardly notice it anymore.

But at the same time it is as if metaphors and analogues have disappeared from corporate communication. Instead buzz words and complex formulations have become the norm.

But that’s really a shame. Why not use a way of communication that works – without your recipient having to rack his or her brain to understand you?

Getting started

Start looking at your recipient’s mental scrapbook. What does it look like?

You need to define your target audience – and thereby the way you can communicate with them. You need to find out what experiences your audience has in common. What kind of story connects your audience?

After that you can start looking for similarities. What images do your target audience have en common? What images that relates to your story?

Remember that some cognitive metaphors and analogues may seem negative and other positive. You must choose your mental pictures with great care.

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