You sure you got the right analogy?

Last week during one of our Influential Storytelling trainings, a participant was proud of herself for using an analogy to get a point across to the COO of her company. It was the week the Mavericks beat the Heat, and if you aren’t into sports, that meant that the basketball season was over and LeBron lost.

Just so happens that her COO wasn’t into basketball either. “Though everyone else at the presentation was,” she claimed. “But I guess next time we need to use an example from Glee,” she admitted.

So the COO loved Glee but she used LeBron. Ooops.

The solution is easy.

Make sure you know thy audience. And really, the most important person in the audience. The one that is the decision maker.

And while she reported that he did “get it” – it did have some “rocky resonance” as I say. Sure, they may ultimately find the light but there were some clouds that could have been avoided.

So which ones do you use?

Well, first, stick with topics that you know the whole audience can associate. Homebuilding, high school, babies, food/cooking, learning to walk, driving, mother nature, NASA, checkers, medicine, Scrabble, colors, chocolate, heating/cooling, hiking, and I could go on — are all to which everyone can relate.

In the next category, I’d consider sports, movies, TV shows and books. But be careful, as evidenced by this list of the most popular movies. You might be surprised that your favorite Eastern Promises or Roshomon probably won’t be on top. Or LeBron, in more ways than one.

(Editor’s Note: This post marks my return from a break I took in June. Something had to give in the skyscraper-full list of things on my plate and in my life. Happy to be here again.)