November 14, 2008

Add fun to your presentation with props

Yesterday I saw a great demonstration of how to use props in a presentation. Props can add liveliness and humor to your presentation and help illustrate your points, as long as you don't overuse them or overact while using them.

The presentation was only ten minutes long, but Philip Le Vasseur, one of my referrals group colleagues, managed to pack in lots of fun and humor with his props.

He spoke on his work as an "audio video therapist" and in his short time frame, he:

* Played with a Slinky, representing a time when our entertainment needs were simple

* Put on a straw hat with a Thich Nhat Hanh quote painted on it, to represent "zen"

* Dumped a thick pile of tangled cables onto the table, representing what it looks like behind our sound systems

* Dumped a pile of remotes on the table to represent the pile of remotes we all have sitting on our coffee tables

* Produced a hilariously gigantic universal remote, in case we have trouble finding our regular remotes

There was so much going on in this presentation, there was no way the audience could lose interest. His style was deadpan, not silly, which made the use of props even more effective. His visual aids just kept coming, and his ability to understand the audience and our messy, complicated sound systems created an instant connection.

If you decide to use a prop, make sure it can be seen by everyone in the room, and don't bring it out until you're ready to use it; it's not nearly as much fun when the prop is already sitting there. Extra small or extra big props are extra funny.

It's also important to practice with your props before you give the presentation, to make sure everything works into your timing properly and to make sure the demonstration flows smoothly. It's not funny if your prop doesn't work.

Props enhance your message, stimulate the audience, and can add a nice touch of humor without much effort.

Do you use props in your presentations? Share in the comments!

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2 comments. Please add yours! :

Anonymous said...

Last week I went to a Dale Carnegie intro course in New York City. At the start of the presentation, the host picked up a ridiculous looking sword/wand/thingy that looked like a cross between something from Harry Potter and the toy store.
She asked us what we would think if there some magic that could make us all have more confidence -- and waved this thingy, It spun around, lights went on and off, and it made a cool "magic" noise! It made us all laugh, but I wondered whether it drew more attention to itself than she'd intended.
I agree Lisa, a good prop is worth a great deal, but its got to fit. You're also right, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

So true, Jonathan. A prop for a sake of a prop won't be effective and will seem out of place or awkward. There's a fine line between fun and dorky. :-)

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