#29: Speak in pictures

When Apple launched the first iPod generation in 2001, it came with a 5 GB hard drive. These days, only hardcore geeks were able to imagine what 5 GB were good for. Average Joe and Plain Jane just had no clue. 5 GB? Is this plenty with disk space? Is this poor? Is this somehow alright? When Steve Jobs presented the first iPod he didn’t talk about 5 GB. But he announced: “1,000 songs in your pocket.”

Steve Jobs and Apple made it easy for ordinary people to understand. They used a quite visual and illustrative language. From them, one can learn rule #29: Speak in pictures.

Using a visual and illustrative language in meetings or presentations helps your clients and audience to understand your message. Use analogies to make unfamiliar things familiar. Use similes and metaphors to introduce new concepts or to explain complex issues. Speak in pictures and make it easy for your listeners to understand.

Need another example? Fred Brooks described in his book  The Mythical Man-Month a principle in software development which says that adding manpower to a late software project actual would make it even later. The conclusion in Brooks’ law is that there is an incremental person who, when added to a project, makes it take more, not less time.

He illustrated his point: “Nine women can’t make a baby in one month”.

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