How To Make Analogies a Powerful Part Of Your Conversations


People will like, trust and remember you if you make them feel smart. Here’s another analogy to help people understand how you help.

To make analogies a powerful part of your conversations,

  • Pick your handful of useful analogies. Get proficient with the wording and know how and when to use them.
  • Guide your conversations to places where you know your analogy will naturally fit in and bring clarity.
  • Once you’ve made your analogy, move on. There’s no need for you to go on ad nauseam. Deliver your succinct, cogent illustration so those you’re talking with will understand exactly how you help.

Related: Use Words Like This to Clarify How You Help


People will like, trust and remember you if you help them feel smart.

Using analogies helps people understand and remember complex points. It’s interesting reading in Walter Isaacson’s biography on Einstein that Einstein didn’t particularly like math, but he could remember complex points by the illustrations that he formed in his mind. . .

It’s the same with us all—we want to understand what people are saying to us, and as advisors, if you can simplify this by providing pictures that are memorable, people stand a far better chance of not only understanding what you’re saying, but leaving the conversation feeling intelligent, feeling informed, and also being able to far more easily convey ideas and information you’ve shared to somebody else. You need to become proficient at doing this.

In last week’s post I mentioned an analogy using the difference between a compass and a map. To see that you can click on the link.

Today, I want to highlight the difference between using that of a pilot versus an air traffic controller. When I started in this industry, one of the analogies we were encouraged to use was that of a pilot. Understandably, when we think of pilots, they are getting us to our destination. They have a team of people on that flight who are professional and who are ready to help us with anything that we need. They are always smiling. They are excited about us arriving at that gate. But there’s only one big problem with that analogy: you can’t get out of the plane at 35,000 feet when it’s flying at 650 miles an hour. You’re stuck. However, a client can leave you, any time they want. So the analogy of you, as an advisor, comparing yourself to a pilot breaks down.

Instead, I preferred using an analogy comparing myself to an air traffic controller. Air traffic controllers have a lot of different variables on their radar. You can say to a client, “Sometimes I hear of advisors likening themselves to pilots, but we think of ourselves more as air traffic controllers. We have you headed for your destination, yet there are many variables on that radar that can impact your safety—things like taxes, estate planning, college education funds, protection from lawsuits. All of those kinds of variables can have a significant impact on how you arrive at your destination. We’re watching those things to make sure you are going to arrive safely at your end destination, ready to fully enjoy that place.” That’s the kind of picture you want to paint for them. Then, any time they watch a movie and they see a radar—the little green light going around—you’re going to come to mind. They’re going to see those various blips and think of you helping them identify and navigate various financial distractions or issues that could crop up, but knowing you can help them safely and successfully arrive at their financial goal.

You want to get comfortable using analogies, and I think this one about air traffic controllers far outweighs positioning yourself as a pilot in your clients’ lives.

So, to get comfortable using analogies,

  1. Select four or five and get comfortable with them. Think through the verbiage, know exactly when you want to use it, and get proficient at delivering it.

  2. Guide the conversation towards these points. You know what’s coming up in the conversation. You’ve practiced this language. Guide the conversation so you’re going to have the opportunity to use this illustration to help the person you speaking with understand how you can help them.

  3. Once you’ve made the analogy, move on. Have a smooth exit from that point. You don’t need to go on ad nauseam making your point. Deliver a succinct, cogent illustration to this person so they will leave knowing they understand exactly how you help.

Once again, when you use this air-traffic-controller analogy, every time that person sees a green radar beam going around in a movie—when they see those little blips—you’re going to come to mind. They’re going to know they’ve spoken with someone who can handle all those different variables that might come their way, guide them through, and have them land successfully so they can enjoy their future financial goals and objectives.

I look forward to bringing you another Distraction-Proof Advisor Idea next week.