You’ve heard phrases like “strong as an ox”, “slept like a log”, and “cool as a cucumber” all your life. What you may not remember from your school days is that these wonderfully descriptive phrases are called similes.
A simile is figure of speech that uses the words “like” or “as” to make a direct comparison between two different things. Sentences like “these new laptops are as light as a feather” or “Joe Pesci is funny like a clown” are examples of similes.
Similes are wonderful turns of phrases that can be used to quickly explain complex concepts to your prospects and clients during presentations and sales pitches.
Similes also allow you a little harmless hyperbole while injecting vivid images into the minds of your audience.
If you are pitching your concept for a new kind of flashlight and trying to explain how much brighter your revolutionary light bulb is in comparison to the current ones on the market, you could certainly quote how many lumens your light measures — or you could say that looking directly into your flashlight is like staring into the light of a thousand suns. Using Lumens might be more technically correct, but using the simile brings an immediate picture to mind and is easily understandable by anyone.
Similes were good enough for Shakespeare — he used them all the time:
- Is love a tender thing? It is too rough. Too rude, too boisterous, and it pricks like thorn.
- Cold as a dead man’s nose.
- Confident as is the falcon’s flight.
- Brief as lightning in the collied night
Similes have been used by the likes of Martin Luther King, Jr. to inspire his followers:
- We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.
And by Winston Churchill to share his opinion on the proper length of a speech:
- A good speech should be like a woman’s skirt; long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.
You’ve sung along with the similes in many of your favorite songs:
- She listens like spring and she talks like June, hey hey.
- I came in like a wrecking ball.
- Sweet like candy to my soul.
- The night is black as the coffee he was drinking.
- I can read you like a magazine.
- Let me go wild, like a blister in the sun.
And commercials have been using similes to sell you stuff your entire life…
- Like a good neighbor
- Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t
- Built like a rock
The next time you’re working on a presentation and you’ve talked yourself into a corner trying to over-explain some technical part of your project, try simplifying the concept by using simile to make your confusing ramblings as clear as day.