A Pro's 4 Steps To Make Powerful Visual Metaphors

Emily Bartlett Feb 1, 2022 1:58:04 PM

Images are a powerful communication tool in presentations. But clichéd metaphors spoil the effect. Here, in 4 easy steps, is how professional illustrators form original and striking metaphors that drive their message home, leaving their audiences seriously impressed.

If you’re using images in your presentations, you’re already doing something right. However, the same old clichés are used in presentations over, and over, and over. How many times have you seen a lightbulb represent an idea?

We think you can do better than that. Whether you are using VideoScribe or just a plain ol’ fashioned flipchart, you can drastically improve what you do with them to impress your audience.

Let’s say, for example, you want to talk about 'improving your intelligence' in your presentation. This is what usually gets bunged in:


Clichés are clichés for a reason. They say basically what we want them to. But they can be better. Loads better.

Here’s how you can learn from professional graphic designers and illustrators to drastically improve your visual metaphors.


1. Make a big, messy chart

Think about the words. Separate them. Find other words and phrases that are synonymous with them. Now draw what makes you think of those things.



2. Merge the images together

Combine the images in all the ways you can think. Ask yourself how they can fit together; where they are similar. Experiment a bit.


Bonus points if you can make the negative space around one of the pictures look like the other picture (like the last image – a plant within a brain).


3. Be a tease

Think about the timing of what you are saying in relation to the drawing. Revealing the next part of the image at the right time in your presentation looks really cool.

Imagine that you’re saying, 'build up your brainpower,' or, 'care, nurture and proper feeding will help your intelligence to grow'. Imagine how this would look animated alongside it:


The audience will think, 'I get it!' – right where you allow them to see it, and not before.

This step would be ideal for an automated animation with a zoom function such as a scribe, but think outside the box if you are using a whiteboard or a flipchart – you could come up with something similar.


4. Milk it

Finally, you could give these images one extra little push to make the most of them. What stories can you see in them? And what kind of message do they send? If you stumble on a good one and it fits with your story – use it.


People will think you’re incredibly clever, and all because you didn’t settle for a boring, cliched metaphor.

Take a free trial of VideoScribe to bring your presentations to life.