Enhancing Your Speech Through Similes, Metaphors, and Hyperboles
[The snow glows white on the mountain tonight. Not a footprint to be seen. A kingdom of isolation. And it looks like I'm the queen. The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside. Couldn't keep it in, heaven knows I've tried. Don't let them in, don't let them see. Be the good girl you always have to be. Conceal, don't feel, don't let them know. Well, now they know.]
Does that ring a bell for you? Yes? Those are the lyrics of “Let it Go” from “Frozen!” Have you wondered why you’re able to recognize this song even without hearing the tune? Well, it’s because the song’s lyrics are so expressive. There are “similes” and “metaphors” that enhance the language, making it extra memorable for us to recognize the song almost immediately! So, in this article, you’re going to learn what similes, metaphors, and hyperboles are and how you can use them in your own speeches.
Let’s start with the question “What are similes and metaphors?” It’s simple: they’re ways of comparing two similar things or ideas. Similes include the words “like” or “as” as the linking word, and metaphors do not. For example, if you wanted to describe a busy event, with a big crowd of people, you could compare the crowd to bees, and the place to a beehive, because a beehive is filled with thousands of energetic bees making continuous noise. So, a simile would be: “The place was buzzing like a beehive.” A metaphor would be: “The place was a beehive.” A hyperbole is slightly different. A hyperbole uses extreme exaggeration to make a point or show emphasis. For example: “Mr. Jones has been teaching here since the dinosaurs were around,” or, “My parents are going to kill me for missing class!” Or, “When she found her dog, her smile was a mile wide.”
The main purpose of similes, metaphors, and hyperboles is to emphasize ideas and make them easier to understand by creating a vivid picture in the minds of your audience. They can communicate all kinds of feelings and amuse or surprise people with the creativity of a description. You can use them in any part of your speech, including the hook, body paragraphs, and the conclusion.
Firstly, let’s look at using similes and metaphors in hooks. One type of hook is a personal anecdote, in other words, sharing a personal story or experience. Let’s say you’re giving a persuasive speech about bullying. A personal anecdote hook could sound like this: “It all started on the first day of seventh grade. Name-calling, mocking, hitting… Going to school became like a living hell. My only safe harbor was my home.” Did you catch the metaphor and the simile? By saying “my home was my safe harbor” implies that home was a place of security. “Going to school was like a living hell” is a simile that emphasizes how going to school caused pain and suffering for the speaker.
Another type of hook is a rhetorical question. On the same topic about bullying, a rhetorical question with a simile could sound like this: “Let me ask you a question, have you ever been called dumb as a rock?” Did you notice anything else about this question? That’s right – it’s also a hyperbole, because it’s exaggerating for effect. Instead of asking, “Have you ever been called dumb?” using a simile that’s a hyperbole gives the hurtful sentence greater impact and captures your audience’s attention more.
Now you know the differences between similes, metaphors, and hyperboles. In part two of this article, you’ll see how to include them in the body and conclusion of your speech.