Comparisons of different things that share similarities are known as analogies. Using an analogy typically involves sharing information that participants can relate to something they already know. For example, in a train-the-trainer session in which the importance of setting behavioral-based learning objectives is discussed, the analogy might be made to Christopher Columbus' trip to the Americas in 1492. Before using it or any other analogy, however, it is important that you ask if everyone is familiar with Columbus' exploits. In a multicultural world, you should make no assumptions.

Assuming that everyone is familiar with the story, you can then explain that the use of learning objectives is important to help participants know where they are going in the session, to gauge progress, and to evaluate end of program achievement of the objectives. The analogy is that without objectives, programs end up like the trip Columbus took:

When Columbus started out on his journey to the new world, he was not sure where he was going. (relates to where they are going for a session)

When he arrived in America, he was not sure where he was. (relates to gauging progress)

When he returned home, he was not sure where he had been. (relates to program achievement)


What program concepts do you present that lend themselves to analogies?

What kinds of analogies can you think of that will appeal to a large range of participants (e.g., industry, pets, cars, or hobbies)?_

What do you perceive to be the biggest challenge in using analogies in your training?

How can you overcome these challenges?

An idea is nothing more nor less than a new combination of old elements.

—James Webb Young Author

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