She grinned like a Cheshire cat.
Your mind works like a computer.
“Like” and “as” are the typical words of comparison in similes. Simile is the first rhetorical device in the acronym SCREAM (Simile, Contrast, Rhyme, Echo, Alliteration, and Metaphor). Use the techniques of SCREAM to capture your audience’s attention with colorful language and anchor your points the minds of your audience members.
Both similes and metaphors compare two different things which have some similar properties. Similes typically use “like” or “as” to make the comparison. A metaphor, which will be a later subject in this series, substitutes one thing for another: “you are the wind beneath my wings.” A simile would state it as “you are like the wind beneath my wings.”
The simile compares ideas explicitly side by side. It is a literal comparison. “A” is like “B.” The metaphor superimposes the ideas. “A” is “B.” It is a figurative comparison, usually of a concrete, tangible thing taking the place of an abstract or less tangible thing.
You can use both similes and metaphors to create vivid images in your listener’s mind. But, similes can be more precise than metaphors and are often used to explain something unfamiliar in more familiar terms, enhancing understanding. “Your heart is like a pump.”
How can you create your own similes?
- Pick a concept, a quality, or an image
- Are there other words to describe the concept?
- Consider possible synonyms (check an online thesaurus)
- What else is like that (or for an ironic simile, the opposite)—brainstorm!
- Add more interesting details,
Here’s an example:
- Something was all of a sudden easy to understand, even though it was complex
- Another way to describe: It was all clear to me!
- Possible Synonyms? Crystal, sunny, bright, smooth, cloudless, see-through
- Clear as a crystal (or ironic: Clear as mud)
- The concept, all at once, was as clear as a crystal. Its shining facets beamed new insights that forever changed my thinking.
Without similes or other rhetorical devices, your speech is like a vast desert of dullness! No more dry, boring speeches! A simile is like water for your presentations, giving life to your message!