Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines “metaphor” like this:
noun ˈme-tə-ˌfȯr also -fər
1) a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them (as in drowning in money); broadly : figurative language — compare simile
2) an object, activity, or idea treated as a metaphor : symbol
So for this definition we are looking at an object that is a symbol of something else. Essentially it is using some object that you can show or hand out during your message that helps to make your message stick.
3 reasons why you should consider using a metaphor during your message:
1) It is visual/tactile – It is something that your audience can see and feel and perhaps smell (or even taste). It sticks out as something more than just the words you are saying. Hearing is one level, seeing is another level and touching is even another level. The more senses you can incorporate the better!
2) It is memorable – Like any meal, your messages may not all stand out and be completely memorable, but they are what nourishes the soul…just like a meal nourishes the body. You don’t remember every meal you have eaten in your life. There are some meals that stand out, but most are just part of keeping you healthy and alive. When you add a metaphor you are helping your message to be one that is memorable. There just might be something specific that sticks, because your audience saw your metaphor. Like that awesome meal with steak, crab legs and shrimp!!!
3) It is connecting your message – a metaphor helps to connect the whole concept, you are trying to teach, to your message. Sometimes there are those moments, when they see the metaphor, that the light bulb turns on and they “get it.”