We are in the middle of a mini-series on communication tips, specifically a process called “S.T.E.P.”  S.T.E.P stands for “State, Translate, Exemplify, Prove”, and is explained in the book Secrets of Great Communicators by Dr. Jeff Myers, a process that Dr. Myers credits learning from Dr. Lee Polk at Baylor University.

Yesterday, I discussed the first two parts of the S.T.E.P., “state” and “translate.” Today, we will move onto the third, called “Exemplify”.

Exemplify means illustrate, or show by example. How can you accomplish this? By bringing your point alive and making it personal to your audience.  Myers lists three ways to exemplify your point: example, personal experience, and analogy.

  1. Example: Give an example of a “real world” situation of your topic. Examples start with words like “For example….”, or “Let’s take the case of….”
  2. Personal Experience: A personal experience is an example from one’s own life. Personal stories are memorable and relatable.
  3. Analogy: An analogy compares the known to the unknown. An analogy is a useful way to describe an unfamiliar idea or object to others. Try, for example, describing a new ethnic food you have tried to a friend. In order to explain a different flavor or texture, you might say something like, “Have you ever tried a ____? It tastes something like that.” You have just made the unfamiliar more understandable, by comparing the unfamiliar ethnic food to one which your friend is familiar.

Thomas Edison credits his success to an ability to think in terms of analogies. Edison averaged a minor invention every 10 days, and a major one every six months. He was able to explain his ideas and compare them to things his peers and colleagues already understood. Practice and learn the art of making analogies!

Tune in tomorrow for the final portion of the S.T.E.P. process: “Prove”.

Question for you:  How are you exemplifying your message to your audience? Is it by example, personal experience, or analogy? Which of these areas could you add to your communication toolkit?

This is Day 17 of a 31 day writing series on Communication.