One of my favorite things to do in a presentation is to put out toys and candy.
If the presentation is less interactive and not learning-focused, like a keynote, I might just put individually wrapped hard candy on the seats or pass around a tin at the beginning. Candy is a small and inexpensive gift to your audience that can perk people up and let them know that you're thinking about their comfort.
In a workshop setting, where people are expecting more interaction (and fun, of course), I like to use toys. I have a collection of mini Play-Dohs, mini Etch-a-Sketches, Silly Putty, Koosh balls, Slinkys and other toys that I put out on the desks or tables before a training.
The Corporation for National and Community Service spells out the benefits of using toys during training. Reasons to use toys include:
1. Toys create a fun and relaxed environment
2. Toys stimulate creativity and involvement
3. Toys meet the needs of diverse learners
4. Toys rechannel doodling habits
5. Toys serve as rewards, reminders, and incentives
I tell my participants that they are free to play with the toys during the session, but they don't get to take them home! You can always bring toys that your participants can keep, or use toys as prizes throughout the training.
I don't find the toys to be a distraction, and the people who are playing with the toys tend to be kinesthetic learners who learn more effectively when being active or using their hands. People who would otherwise be tapping their pens or fidgeting in their seats can make sculptures out of Play-Doh and still pay attention to the speaker.
I highly recommend using toys to add another dimension of fun, creativity and learning enhancement to your presentations.