Props have the sensory appeal of making your presentation more visually pleasing and different. Difference is what interests us and what we tend to remember.
For example, if you travelled to work today – the same as always – you tended not to notice things nor remember anything specific. If something different happened – you woke up – noticed it and remembered it. You might even have told others about the different thing today. But you probably never told someone about your boring commute.
Similarly if your presentation is just as boring as all the rest, your audience night not wake up and remember any part of it – let alone tell others about it later.
A prop can provide that visual difference. Your product could be the prop you use or you might use a prop as a metaphor. This can be especially effective when explaining a service or concept. Laying your props out on a table can also serve as your speech notes.
Here are some sample props and possible messages.
Baseball – teamwork
Shovel – setting the groundwork
Tennis racket – importance of returning calls
Balloon – fun
Sundial – technological change
Another type of prop that can work very well is a simple magic trick. Don’t saw the boss in half. Just a simple card, rope or ring trick can help anchor your key message at the appropriate time. Be sure to rehearse it well and have a saver line ready in case the trick doesn’t work.
Use a prop if it helps clarify or anchor your message. If the prop does neither – don’t use it. You don’t want people wondering – “What was that all about?”
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Executive Speech Coach, Business presentation tips from George Torok, the Speech Coach for Executives