Analogies Overcome the Curse of Knowledge
(Presenting Complex Information)
Imagine this were to happen to you:
You order pizza from your local pizzeria and collect it, but when you get home and open the box, there are only three slices in the box. Where have the other slices gone?
Is it a mystery?
You do this journey several times over the summer, and the same thing keeps happening; sometimes four slices, other times only two!
Time to change the pizza provider?
This story is an analogy used by one of my clients, who supply state-of-the-art crop spraying equipment to farmers.
Farmers have been spraying their crops in the same traditional, inefficient way for years and years.
Mix water and chemicals and spray on the fields only to have 70% of the expensive mixture blow away in the wind. They are wasting water, expensive chemicals, time, and labour.
Result: Costly and poor-quality crops.
This is Albert Einstein’s much-quoted definition of insanity:
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
The pizza slices disappearing is a mystery?
The farmer’s expensive crop spray blowing away in the wind is no longer a mystery; it’s a problem, now solved by my client Magrow Tech.
A comparison between one thing and another, typically for the purpose of explanation or clarification.
Analogies are the most powerful tool at the disposal of a presenter who needs to explain technical or complicated topics to an audience who may not be as familiar with the topic as the speaker.
Blinding your audience with science is the surest way to guarantee the failure of your endeavours.
Keep it simple (KISS).
When you deliver your message in the simplest form possible, you will be successful, as all your audience will understand your proposal.
Understanding is critical if you wish your audience to go on a journey with you to a destination of your choosing.
A humour analogy to conclude:
“If you want my final opinion on the mystery of life and all that, I can give it to you in a nutshell. The universe is like a safe to which there is a combination. But the combination is locked up in the safe.”
Peter De Vries, Let Me Count the Ways.