Even the driest subject can become interesting if you tie the elements in your message together around a familiar theme. In a speech addressing problems of the American health care system, Sydney Taurel, president and CEO of Eli Lilly, used a medical metaphor to bring his subject to life.
He introduced the metaphor in his opening by telling his audience that before choosing the right policy solution, it was necessary to understand the underlying pathology of the current problems. He claimed American health care suffered from a metabolic disorder, an autoimmune disorder, and a cognitive disorder, and then used these three elements to structure his speech.
He began by likening the economic problems in the current health care system to a metabolic disorder. People with certain metabolic disorders overeat because of breakdowns in chemical signals to the brain. He then claimed that there was a similar malfunction at the heart of the cost spiral in U.S. health care: a breakdown in the signals between buyers and sellers.
When he'd finished speaking about the economic problems in health care, he introduced his second medical metaphor: the autoimmune disorder. An autoimmune disorder occurs when the immune system, designed to protect the body, runs out of control and begins attacking the body itself. He went on to compare the impact of certain kinds of government involvement in health care to an autoimmune disorder.
After using the medical metaphor of a cognitive disorder to make his third and final point, Mr. Taurel ended his speech. His diagnosis of the system made a complex subject come alive and left his audience with metaphors that lingered long after he had finished speaking.