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A tool to help your team speak from the same page

'We're all in this boat together'. 'Let's get to the root of the problem'. ' We have a seed of an idea'.

How many times have you been in a meeting or event, felt bored and then someone mentions a metaphor similar to those above? When I hear one, I'm immediately drawn back into the story and able to picture the speaker's scenario in my mind.

A visual metaphor is a representation of a noun through a visual image that suggests a particular association or similarity.

Metaphors - in particular, visual metaphors- are tools that can be used to convey a powerful message. They help to create mental visual images of an idea or situation which is often more memorable and easier to understand than simply talking about it. It's easy to get lost in the details, but visual metaphors provide clarity and help focus teams on working together, to 'speak from the same page'. In addition, they often provide valuable insight into how things will turn out in the end.

Examples of visual metaphors you can use for meetings include the following:

  • Boat or Ship - can denote a team on a journey, demonstrating the challenges ahead and the direction they're headed

  • Plant or Tree - denotes the foundations of an organisation or system (roots) through to different working parts and the environment that affects it (rain/ sun)

  • Iceberg - the classic metaphor, denoting that there is far more going on underneath the surface than one can see on the tip

Visual metaphors also help to make your message more memorable by giving readers something to latch onto and recall later on. This can be incredibly useful when communicating ideas that are difficult to explain in words alone.

Here are some key strategies to keep in mind when using visual metaphors:

1. Make sure that the visual elements used are relevant to what is being spoken about and conveys the right message

2. Use visuals that are clear and comprehensible so that everyone understands them (nothing too 'out there')

3. Listen to how your team talk and if there's a particular metaphor that keeps coming up, use it!

Do you use visual metaphors at your meetings or events? Comment below to tell us more!

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