Clichés Are Dead: How to Revive Your Stories with Creative Metaphors

Clichés were once novel pieces of information, but with time, became overused and are now considered boring. While this doesn’t make them any less true, they no longer have the same power to resonate with audiences. So how can you take the meaning found in a cliché, and design your own creative metaphor to surprise and delight?

The secret is to find interesting content that speaks to your topic in a less obvious way and adapt it to your conversation.

Sasa Vucinic’s TEDGlobal Talk, Why We Should Invest in a Free Press, perfectly illustrates this. He begins with a captivating 20-second video clip showing different physical perspectives of a man running. These different angles leave the audience with a rapidly changing impression of the man: runner, criminal, hero.

Sasa uses this interesting clip to draw out the relevant grain of truth and adapt it to his talk about media and the power of independent press. The grain of truth in this case is, “… it’s only when you get the whole picture (can) you fully understand what is going on”.

While the clip was not at all in relation to media and free press, it provided Sasa with the opportunity to make it his own, alluding to media and the presentation of information. This unique metaphor gives him an edge, and enables him to quickly capture the attention of his audience.

Another example is Jay Shetty, an inspirational speaker who uses the literal lifeline projected on a heart monitor as a metaphor for entrepreneurship.

Jay explains that the journey of an entrepreneur, as treacherous as it can be, is truly living if not life itself. He drives his point home through this creative metaphor, and it looks like it’s working (I’m looking at you, guy recording on iPhone).

The bottom line? In order to escape clichés and tap into creativity in metaphors, think about what you know to be true, different experiences or concepts – and adapt these to your topic.

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