I’ll never forget that moment. On a cold Michigan afternoon, I was restocking shelves at work and paying for college.
Dean, a 55 year old coworker, gave me a communication tip which helped me tremendously.
“Arlen, take an unclear or vague concept and illustrate it to the listener using something they are familiar with.”
Use the familiar to illustrate the unfamiliar.
This concept has served me well. Here are two ways I have used this.
Goal Setting & Road Trips
In a presentation on goal setting, I’ll tell the story of a trip my brother and I went on to Houston.
- We had a destination
- We made a road map
- We kept on driving.
To reach your goals, choose your destination, make a road map, and keep on driving.
I illustrated a vague concept of goal setting with a clear illustration of taking a trip.
Saving & the Money Bucket
Another time I gave a presentation on money. My goal was to emphasize the important of spending less than we make.
Here is how I did this.
Imagine a bucket. There is a garden hose coming in the top and shooting water into the bucket. There are holes in the bottom leaking water out. If there is more water coming in than leaking, the water level will rise in the bucket. If more is leaking than coming in, the water level will drop.
It’s the same way with our finances. We have a money bucket. Our income is the money coming in the top. Our bills are the holes where our money dribbles or pours out. More income than expense means we build a savings account and a buffer. Too many holes or expenses means the money level drops.
If too much money is leaving, we have two options.
First, increase the income. Second, plug the holes and get our spending under control.
Does this make it clear? Audiences have told me yes!
Try it with your next speech. Use the familiar to illustrate the unfamiliar.