If you think baseball and business are unrelated to each other, think again. Both require a strategy. Both want to field a winning team. Both have to constantly adjust their strategy based on the competition and external conditions. Both have to pitch to win.
America’s favorite pastime - baseball - has inspired many phrases that have become a part and parcel of business communication. ‘Pitching’ your idea itself is borrowed from baseball. If you are a baseball fan, you can’t help but throw in expressions like sweet spot, strike zone, meatball, home run, etc. in your business conversations.
Do you show off that same love in your business presentations? Why not? Your PowerPoint presentations could definitely hit a home run if you add some action to it. Here are 10 most commonly used baseball metaphors that can be incorporated into your presentation slides for an enthralling experience:
Famous Baseball Metaphors to Pitch in Your Presentations:
Baseball Metaphor #1- Big Hit!
Crowds cheer up when the batter hits the ball with an impressive force to score a run. That’s a big hit! Swing and miss would have been a shame. This belting of the ball has come to mean a huge success, an achievement, or winning the hearts of people. No wonder, it became a hit in business communication too.
Every startup wishes to become a big hit. The launch of a new product is also planned and marketed for the same goal. Let that adrenaline rush of the game flow into your slide by reminding your team members of the end goal - a big hit and a big win!
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Baseball Metaphor #2- New Ball Game
Baseball, like all other games, is very unpredictable. Weather conditions, team formation, audience turnout, and many other factors can turn the tables any given day. Winners of the previous game can’t rely on their old successes. A new ball game requires a complete new strategy.
This expression has now flowed into our everyday language referring to entirely new circumstances. For example, digital growth has completely transformed the way businesses operate and interact with clients. It has become a whole new ball game where smaller players can take on the big players and beat them with a brilliant performance.
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Baseball Metaphor #3- Hit a Home Run
For the uninitiated, we might as well explain what a home run is. It’s when the batter hits the ball very far (into the crowd or out of the stadium) in order to run all bases and reach home. It’s a great deal to earn a reputation as home run hitters. Naturally, everyone wants to join this league of hitters.
It has also become a part of business communication meaning a highly successful performance. Marketing and sales teams yearn to hit home runs by making a campaign go viral or closing the maximum sales in a quarter. Managers have to push their reps to reach their maximum potential and baseball lovers are sure to get pumped by this phrase!
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Baseball Metaphor #4- Pitch
This has become such an integral part of business language that we have forgotten it was originally borrowed from baseball. In the sport, it is simply the throwing of a ball to the opposing batsman. The pitcher aims to throw strikes (when the batter fails to hit the pitch) and get the batter out. He plays with his swing, speed and force and tries various pitching techniques such as curveball, fastball, slider, cutter, sinker, screwball, forkball, knuckleball, etc. to confuse the batter and make him miss it.
A pitcher’s performance plays a big role in deciding the win. Likewise, a businessman’s pitch, be it directed at the top management, investors, or stakeholders, makes all the difference in the outcome. Your presentation is your pitch but unlike the baseball pitcher, you do not want the opposite person to miss it but catch your pitch and act on it. In all other aspects, the two are exactly the same: The baseball pitcher wishes to succeed at the pitcher’s mound, the presenter at the stage or the meeting room. Both have to mold their delivery and timing for the best results. Both are crucial to winning the game or the deal!
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Business Metaphor #5- League of Their Own
When someone is far superior to others at doing something, we say they are in a league of their own. But you probably knew that already. You might even have seen the movie A League of Their Own that popularized this expression. When a baseball team becomes a very tough contender, we usually say they are a league of their own.
How can you use this metaphorical expression in business? Well, don’t all businesses want to be the market leader and be in a league of their own! Many small start-ups have beaten big giants and become a league of their own. When you want to inspire your teammates to achieve their goals and help the company outdo all others in the market, it’s a good time to use this expression and pump them up!
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Business Metaphor #6- Ballpark Figure
Managers tend to throw this expression around a lot. If you are not one of them, you might want to add it to your vocabulary arsenal. Ballpark figure in baseball represents an estimate of the number of people attending the game.
In business and financial discussions, where we talk about projections a lot, a ballpark figure is asked to get an estimate of sales, costs, leads, profits, etc. So, you would often notice managers saying, “What are the financial projections for 2021? Give me a ballpark figure.”
Baseball Metaphor #7- Swing for the Fences
Swing for the fences means taking bold risks in hope of substantial returns. In baseball, a batter tries to hit the ball as hard as possible and get it past the fences to get a home run. He pours all his energy into hitting the ball.
This expression became very popular in business and financial circles, especially amongst the risk takers and ambitious professionals. Swing for the fences or strike out! Go all out or go home! In investment terms, swinging for the fences refers to investors who make bold bets to earn substantial profits while taking a big risk at the same time. So, when motivating someone to put all their efforts into a task, that would be the best time to show off your baseball knowledge.
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Baseball Metaphor #8- Strike Zone
The area where the ball must pass into to qualify as a strike- over the home plate, above the batter’s knees, and below the middle of the torso. When it is outside the strike zone and the batter does not swing, it is called a ball. Four balls and the batter gets a free pass to the first base.
Naturally, all efforts are to make the pitch land into the strike zone. In business language, it has come to be referred to the area where all efforts should be concentrated. The sales team talks about the sales strike zone referring to the customer base that will bring in the maximum sales in the shortest time. In sales, it is often believed that 20% of customers bring in 80% of the sales. Focusing on this 20% category brings richer dividends for the company.
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Business Metaphor #9- Curveballs
A pitch that changes direction in the air and deviates from the expected, straight path is called a curveball. Since it hits the batter unawares, there’s a great chance he will swing and miss. This is a great pitching technique.
It is now used in our general conversations to refer to unexpected events. You will often read this word crop up in pieces of advice on dealing with life’s curveballs. Good batters practice and perfect their observation powers to spot a curveball coming their way as soon the pitch is released. Businesses too have to observe market trends and be prepared to deal with curveballs or unwelcome surprises.
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Business Metaphor #10- Three Strikes & You’re Out!
When a batter swings at a pitch within the strike zone and misses it, it’s a strike. Three strikes by the batter and he’s out!
In business and general conversations, it refers to three chances or warnings to a person. The third failure is the last straw and no chances are given further. The three strikes rule is followed in many situations such as legal situations and employee management. Whether it’s a fair or unfair rule is debatable!
There are many other baseball metaphors that can add power to your presentations such as power hitting, loading the bases, slugger, flyball, and so on. It’s better to stick to the basics, however, so that even the casual followers of the game can understand your reference. That’s why, these 10 baseball metaphors have been shared with you. And when the baseball season is on, feel free to swing and hit your listeners with baseball jargon. And where presentations are concerned, we are sure it will help you hit a home run and impress the audience. Best of luck!