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  • Writer's pictureYasmine El-Baz

Make your presentation memorable by using "props".

In 2009, about a third of the way through his TED talk titled “Mosquitoes, Malaria, and Education", Bill Gates lifted up a glass jar full of mosquitoes, saying: “Now, malaria is of course transmitted by mosquitoes. I brought some here, just so you could experience this. We’ll let those roam around the auditorium a little bit. There’s no reason only poor people should have the experience. Don’t worry those mosquitoes are not infected.”

Bill gates used a great example of what we call “prop” in public speaking, which is a visual tangible object a speaker uses to enhance the impact of his speech/presentation and the power of his message delivery.

Another great example for using props in public speaking is Cameron Russell speech titled “Looks aren’t everything”, Cameron, who is a successful fashion model, started her speech wearing an attractive dress with high heels similar to what she usually wears her in photo-shoots and fashion runways, but after her introduction she said: "I'm quite privileged to be able to transform what you think of me in a very brief 10 seconds".

And then she changed, on stage, her heels into comfy shoes and her long dress into a long skirt and sweater!

That simple change in her outfit actually proved how looks can be deceiving; in addition to this she showed contrasting pictures of her photo-shoots and her real life, making the point that she is truly not the person that is displayed to the masses.

Cameron used that change in her outfit as an attention grabber and a strong tool to validate her point that actually looks aren’t everything.

The use of good visual aids, especially physical “props” is one of the best techniques for adding interest, and variety to presentations/speeches. People remember more of what they are told if the experience is multi-sensory, rather than just listening to spoken words or reading printed words on a screen. This is because "props" have a physical presence, which can create powerful and memorable metaphors.

But does this mean props can only be used for speeches performed on stage or informal talks? Definitely not!

Props can be used in formal talks and in business presentations as well, the point is to be smart in choosing the right prop for your speaking opportunity.

How to choose the right prop for your presentation/speech?

1)     Must be relevant to your key message.

2)     Can be easily seen by your audience.

3)     Don’t complicate things! Props can be as simple as a piece of paper with a big word written on it or can be advanced as drones!

In order to succeed in this, you need to rehearse using the prop so you can be comfortable while using it in front of your audience and make sure to display at the right moment of your talk.

One of my coaching clients used signs, which looked like conversation pop-up windows, including graphics that illustrated his company’s new product benefits while performing his product launch presentation to the board of directors, as if those pop-ups were the kind of wordings that needs to be shared by their customers. And he received lots of positive comments about how engaging and exceptional the idea was.

The point here is to think differently when you’re planning for your next presentation. Other than just depending on the usual visual aids like power points or flip charts, try asking yourself what else you can use to make your point more memorable and clear? At the same time to stay relevant to your message and the type of your audience.

Have the guts to try new things, even C-suite audiences are craving to see new ideas that can break the boredom of their long meetings.


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