Presentation Coaching: Using Props to Drive Your Message Home

Presentation PropsHow to use relevant objects, handouts or displays to make your presentation topic and delivery more effective

The more creative ways you can deliver a message during a presentation, the more people with whom you can connect and engage. The creative use of props will help spread your message and have it resonate with your audience.

Capture the attention of more people in your audience with the following pointers for presentation props.

Prop & Topic Matching

John Zimmer writes in Manner of Speaking that your prop must have relevance to your presentation. It shouldn’t be too hard for your audience to identify the connection between the prop and your presentation. For example, if you’re talking about the difference between a book and an e-reader, display a hardback book and Kindle. If the prop doesn’t resonate with the audience, they’ll be distracted and lose interest in your message.

A Prominent Display

Make sure your prop is visible to your entire audience. Imagine that you are in a large auditorium full of people. If you hold up a 3-inch by 5-inch clay tablet to emphasize an archaeological object, you will frustrate about 90 percent of the audience who can’t see it clearly.

Bring up a large slide that displays the prop as you hold it up. The audience will make the connection between the tiny object that you’re holding and the picture on the screen. People may also have to rely on an on-stage camera operator to focus on the object.

Props as a Takeaway

Picture yourself as presenting “the top 10 things to do to prepare for a tax audit.” If you are a tax attorney, give guests a gift as a takeaway. Booklet printing is an affordable marketing tool that audience members can take home. Highlight your top 10 topics and tips in the booklet, and include a blurb about yourself on the back page. Hand this out as people walk in and wait to be seated. Encourage audience members to make notes on your booklet.

Image Building

You can effectively use a prop over and over until it becomes part of your branding, writes Michel Theriault for Success Fuel for Managers. Matthew Lesko made a fortune in the late 90’s by wearing a suit covered with question marks while he told people how to get grant money from the government. His distinguishable outfit became a recognizable part of his brand.

Imagine presenting new Apple products to people who are dedicated to using Microsoft. Discussing Apple innovations can be overwhelming to Microsoft loyalists. Hold up a little stop sign with the words “Don’t Panic” now and then during the presentation. It’ll break the tension, make people smile and could become a solid characteristic of your brand.

Practice Makes Perfect

Julie Hansen in Selling Power emphasizes the importance of prop practice. Prop usage needs to appear fluid and natural. Awkwardly handling the prop will distract the audience and kill any focus. Utilize the prop into your presentation smoothly, and the transition will have a positive influence your audience.


GUEST POST by: Joseph Wallace

Joe is a business blogger who enjoys writing about management, start-up enterprises and small businesses.

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Editorial Staff

This post was written by editorial staff.