The Dandelion Group

Technique of the week

Allusion is not a sin

Not everyone with expertise sticks out as an expert. Fortunately, a rhetorical device exists that can make you look like a descendant of Socrates: competent and eloquent at the same time.

The next time you want to make a complex point try a simple allusion. If you have read greek mythology, the bible or other books, this task should not take you too long. An allusion is a brief simile that hints to a famous figure or historical event. Well-known examples are Adonis, Steve Jobs or the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is up to you which one you pick but remember that the goal is to connect with the audience.

How to craft allusions?

  1. Grab a marker and highlight the parts of your speech that might be too complicated and weak.

  2. Skim publications and campaigns of your target audience to identify commonplace words, metaphors and prominent figures.

  3. Make the speech easier to understand by transforming complicated bits into a relatable allusion, which can build on the vocabulary you found. 

Exercise

The Archbishop of Canterbury recently gave a speech at the Trades Union Congress in Manchester. Spice up the ending by adding an allusion to one of the final three paragraphs.

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Ben WilhelmComment