This virus is like nothing we've seen before. Or is it?
(Image: Issy Bailey/Unsplash)
Our various leaders have been voracious in their attempts to talk us through these trying times.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently said:
“The soldiers in this fight are our health care professionals. It’s the doctors, it’s the nurses, it’s the people who are working in the hospitals, it’s the aids. They are the soldiers who are fighting this battle for us.”
And many others such as the presidents of Italy and USA and the United Nations have talked about Covid-19 in terms of us being at war with this virus. We are. And what they're doing is leveraging the power of analogy and metaphor to get us to get it.
My English teacher, Ronald Brookes, would strike me down with lightning for saying this, but I tend to lump analogies, metaphors, and similes together as roughly the same thing.
Meaning, Something is Like Something Else.
It's one of the most powerful methods great communicators use to fast-track an audience's comprehension of an idea. Because you already know something, when I liken this to that, you get a strong mental idea of the new concept, and are therefore 80% towards understanding it.
It's something familiar with a new twist.
Some of the more colourful examples I've come across recently include these three:
Richard Quest, CNN anchor and Covid sufferer described it thus:
“Corona Virus is like a Tornado … it swirls around the body, causing chaos and confusion, then it’s gone, leaving all this damage behind.”
We get it.
Daniel Andrews, premier of the Australian State of Victoria, said:
“This is a public health bushfire."
We get it. Especially after massive parts of Victoria were only recently engulfed in devastating bushfires. So those images come very readily to mind.
And his Chief Health Officer, Brett Sutton, is now talking up the need for mask wearing:
"Masks are to the Corona virus, as speed limits are to the road toll."
We get it. It slows down the spread. Although it takes a bit more mental processing to get there, which is never a good thing with a general audience.
So always always yourself: What is this like?
Then start sprinkling analogies, metaphors, and similes into your messaging more often.
They're like putting your audience on an express train to your intended destination.
Let me know any good Covid-related analogies you've heard or come across, thanks!