When you give a presentation you don’t just want people to listen. You want them fully engaged and to remember your message long after the event. Using creative, unusual props is an excellent way to make ideas clear and also standout so that they will be remembered.
Here are some of the best and most effective props you can use to elevate your next speech or presentation.
Sounds: A sound creating prop adds variety and interest. An unexpected noise can also elicit a physical response which involves your audience even more in your speech.
Sounds can also extend to an unseen prop that may provide background music and help to create an atmosphere for your speech. Imagine a movie trailer without music and the difference is quite startling. Now practise your speech with an appropriate background music track and experience the difference music can make.
Imagery: Most people tend to recall things in pictures. Using pictures or videos in your speech adds greater opportunity for your speech to be memorable. Imagery is the simplest and most effective prop.
Clothes: Your clothes communicate with the audience immediately. Choose your colours, patterns, styles, designs that may endear you to your audience and/or enhance your credibility.
Movement. Using a prop that moves or interacts with the audience gets people to move their eyes, heads, or bodies towards a focal point. It focusses their attention to where you want them to look.
Getting your audience to move during your speech also provides a break from just sitting and listening – this engages the audience, help keep their attention and make your speech more likely to be remembered. It is why most speakers ask audience members to raise their hands or stand up and move around a bit.
Be specific: If you want to make your audience feel special use a prop that is specific to their culture, geographical location, or some shared passion. It will enhance your speech and build your credibility as a thoughtful, caring and well researched speaker. It will show your audience that you thought about them as individuals, made the effort to connect and help build trust and rapport.
Humour: Most experienced speakers will usually get the audience to laugh within the first thirty seconds on stage. This is because it relaxes the body and makes the mind more receptive. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, which make you feel good.
Your humorous prop could be as simple as putting on a hat or showing a slide.
Live props: In his 2009 TED talk Bill Gates opened a jar of live mosquitoes. The audience members were attentive and emotionally connected by their fear of getting bitten by a mosquito that might cause malaria. Live props may be a bit tricky to use but in this case the effect is unforgettable!
Smells. Use a prop that smells: Did that statement cause you to react? Champion speaker Dananjaya Hettiarachchi smells a rose as he starts his speech. As most audience members have experienced smelling a flower, this serves to trick their olfactory senses into thinking they are having a similar experience.
Controversial or unexpected: If you are looking for immediate engagement or reaction with your audience, then select a prop that is controversial or unexpected like 2015 World Champion of Public Speaking Mohammed Qahtani, in his speech ‘The Power of Words'. The prop was a cigarette. Smoking on stage? The prop drew immediate attention and he cleverly diffused a potentially controversial start with humour then smoothly linked the use of his prop to the rest of his speech.
This isn’t an exhaustive list but I hope these ideas will help you to have a go and try out some different props in your next presentation. Your creative mind may come up with others to add to the list.
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