Poems and stories can provide powerful metaphors in training, particularly when you are trying to get a motivational point across. If you think about the things you remember from your past education, you will probably note that most of them have come from rhymes or stories of some kind. I mean how did you learn to say your A,B,C’s? I bet you’re even saying the rhyme in your head right now!
I find that participants respond extremely well when you sum up a topic with a rhyme that fits the occasion and there are so many wonderful examples to be taken from past literature that it really doesn’t have to take too much time looking for them either. An example of this for me was the subject of ‘procrastination’. I really struggled to get the point across to learners when approaching what is a pretty dry topic. However, once I added the concept of ‘Swallow the frog’ (shamelessly stolen from Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn) they really started to get it. Now I quite often here people saying “Come on, just swallow the frog!” In case you are wondering, the phrase relates to a section in the book where Tom Sawyer says, “If you have to swallow a frog, don’t look at it too long.” (i.e. the more you delay doing a bad task, the worse it gets).
When there is no useful metaphor to be found, I sometimes come up with my own. It really isn’t that hard to do and takes me back to my ‘poetry time’ sessions in school. Here is an example of one of my poems to get you going.
You pick me up,
You put me down,
I’m controlled by your desire.
You’ve made me friends,
You’ve caused me fights,
I’ve even been your liar.
No solitude when you’re around,
No bitterness or tears,
Cause and solution to my struggles,
Both creating and easing fears.
I think it’s time I took control,
I don’t mean to be rude,
I’m the boss, you have to learn,
My bittersweet attitude.