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The most important tool for communication


Everyone has a world view. Everyone understands something. Everyone thinks and feels a certain way.

And the natural tendency for anyone is to reject out of hand what doesn't fit well with this line of thinking.

Which is why facts don't make up an important tool for communication. Facts are important, yes. But not for communication. Not for making a point. Not for getting the other person with a contradictory view to see things your way.

Facts belong in the appendix.

When you're making a presentation, or a sales pitch, or are talking to an investor to raise money for your startup, or you are running an ad for your product, you don't start with the facts.

Facts are truisms. They are the same for all of us. The evidence that climate change believers see and the non-believers see is the same. The facts that Trump supporters have access to and the Trump haters have access to are the same.

Yet, different people draw different conclusions from the same facts.

We come to the table with a certain word view, a certain bias and look at the data and think hard about how the data can be interpreted to fit our world view.

So push the facts to the appendix. And bring forth metaphors instead.

Metaphors are lies. They are stories. But they give the listener or the reader something that they can relate to. Good metaphors are ones that draw upon something that exists in the world view of the one being communicated to and talks about how the idea that is the subject of communication is similar. This makes it easy for someone to grasp and comprehend.

This is the reason interviewers ask candidates to explain how rocket propulsion works to their grandmother, or to explain the spacetime continuum to a five year old.

The objective is to test the ability of the candidate to generate meaningful metaphors for the audience. It is not a test of whether the candidate understands the concept. Whether she does or not is a fact and she will be screened out much earlier if she doesn't. It is a test of communication. It is a test to see whether the candidate can wield the most important communication tool comfortably.

Go tell a story.

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