Making Presentation Figurative


A powerful tool for improving a presentation is enriching it with right words.

Figurative ways of speech make informative less monotonous, helping presenters get their points across an audience.

When supported with emotions and visualizations, any presentation becomes more logical and less misunderstandable.

Writers use numerous figures of speech to make their stories inspiring and memorable. Speakers can follow the lead and make their presentations figurative by using some stylistic devices of a language.

Figures of speech to use in presentations

1. Parallelism is the use of similar components in a sentence to add some balance and rhythm to it. Similarities can be different: sound, grammar, meaning, etc.

Whether in class, at work or at home, Shasta was always busy.

2. Parable is a method of story presentation when a narrator abstracts away from a current topic and then comes around to it. It adds some philosophically-ethical understanding and evaluation to the idea.

There are two wolves fighting in each man’s heart. One is Love, the other is Hate. Which one wins? The one you feed the most. (Pathfinder)

3. Metaphor is an implied comparison between unrelated objects, activities, or concepts that have some similarities.

Those words were music to her ears.

4. Gradation is an arrangement of words in ascending or descending order by their emotional or semantic importance.

I came; I saw; I conquered.

5. Interrogation is a statement in a form of a question that doesn’t require any answers.

“O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.” (Shakespeare)

6. Inversion is the usage of words in an unusual order.

“To me alone there came a thought of grief.” (Wordsworth)

7. Epithet is a descriptive device that adds or replaces the name of a person, object, or process.

“The earth is crying-sweet,
And scattering-bright the air,
Eddying, dizzying, closing round,
With soft and drunken laughter…” (Brooke)

8. Allegory is a kind of an extended metaphor. Its elements act like symbols aimed to reveal a hidden meaning of the story.

“All animals are equal but a few are more equal than others.” (Orwell) - animals are an allegory, representing different sections of society.

9. Hyperbole is an artistic exaggeration.

I will die if he says no.

10. Antithesis is the usage of similar constructions for opposed ideas to highlight the contrast between them.

“We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.” (Barack Obama)

Figures of speech are aimed to make stories more inspiring, motivational, and understandable. Using them in presentations can help influence an audience and make them take a speaker’s points.

Quality over quantity

It’s more efficient to apply one well-chosen verbal device than use several weaker ones. Follow the WAR-rule when picking a figure of speech.

  • Well-placed. Apply the figure of speech to the main idea of your presentation for better memorization. It should get as much attention as possible, so it’s a good practice to use it in combination with feedback activation or at the end of the presentation.

  • Appropriate. Business presentations are about a formal tone, and if you apply figurative verbal devices to them, it may be considered bad manners. Audience analysis will help to find out a viability of a figure better than guesswork.

  • Relevant. Parables should have enough similarities with the presentation topic, while metaphors and hyperboles should appeal to the right associations.

Using figures of speech in presentations is optional and should be applied carefully. It depends on a speaker whether verbal devices look silly or make his presentation viral.