When speaking in public, the term “props” is a shortened version of the theatrical term “property,” a word used to describe any object manipulated or used by an actor in a performance. As a speaker, you are an interpreter, believe it or not. You have the obligation to use all means necessary to get your message across to the audience.
I think of props as whatever physical item is on stage with you. Your flip chart is an accessory. Your lectern is a support. Overhead projectors, pointers, notes, chairs, markers, pens, and other audiovisual aids are all forms of accessories. Rather, accessories are a form of visual aid.
Why use accessories?
Accessories help warm up your audience when you make a public speaking engagement. They can be used as substitutes for notes. They help focus attention on the talking points you are trying to make along with illustrating them for you. They make better connections than your words with visually oriented members of your audience. They create interest, add variety, and make your points more memorable.
Props can be worn before the show to pass through the audience in anticipation of the show. This is seen in large stadiums when beach balls and frisbees are thrown into the crowd. I distribute snacks and / or personalized crosswords about the group that I make on my computer. Puzzles are especially good for breaking the ice because group members come together to help each other with solutions.
Hate relying on notes? Props can be a substitute for written cheat sheets. To illustrate this in live seminars and television interviews, I use three hats as an outline for a show. The first hat is a gag ball cap that has very long hair stuck to it so that you look like a hippie when you wear it. The second hat is a black top hat. The third is a safari hat. Each hat prompts me to talk about a well-rehearsed snippet or snippet. Putting on the long-haired baseball cap immediately reminds me to talk about when the company was young and aggressive. After that section, I take off my cap (if you have a fun, playful audience, you can put it on the head of an audience member), then I put the black top hat on. The top hat opens a section on the mature years of growth of the company. Then I put on the safari hat that opens a section on finding new business. All the talk is done without any notes. You just have to memorize your opening and closing and practice each of the sections independently as you learned in a previous issue.
Didn’t someone say that an accessory is worth a thousand words? Maybe it was a photo, but it is almost the same. Often times, a well-selected accessory will illustrate your point much better than words could. It also focuses your attention directly on the point you are trying to make because it is something new that is happening during the presentation. People can easily space their words, but a unique accessory is hard to ignore. Also, the visually oriented people in your audience will perk up and get more value when wearing accessories.
Memorability is another good reason to accessorize. People remember pictures much more than words. This is why public speakers trying to use stories try to use words to create images in your mind. They know that the pictures will be remembered when the words have long been forgotten. If you’re not a great storyteller yet, you can use props to help create these images.
There are many different types of accessories that can be used to your benefit in a public speaking. Extra-large or extra-small accessories are fun. Noisy ones are fun. Even though it is attacking the sense of hearing, it is attacking it in a unique way that makes it memorable. Costumes and magic tricks are good accessories.
I have a friend who talks about phone skills. Use a giant telephone headset to highlight the importance of telephone skills. I used a clown accessory to make the serious point that if we went through with this fusion it would be like being in a storm with a clown umbrella (for those of you who don’t know, a clown umbrella is only about 8 inches in diameter ). ).
Noisy ones are fun. I recommended that a sales manager get one of those highway revenge gadgets that makes machine gun, ray gun, and bomb noises when you push a button. If XYA company gets in our way, this is what it will do to them (he pressed the button on the machine gun while holding the device close to the microphone). He got her point.
I put on gorilla costumes, brought full-size mannequins to the stage, and kicked them. I have done simple magic tricks and many other things to get my point across in a more memorable and interesting way.
You don’t necessarily have to do crazy things to accessorize. A very creative friend of mine, Carolyn Long, was going to talk about the keys to creativity. He opened holding the keys, then discarded them in favor of a combination lock. His point was made.
Tips for using accessories
* Normally, you should keep your special accessories hidden until you are ready to use them.
* Make sure the fixture can be seen from all parts of the room.
* ALWAYS talk to the audience, not the prop (unless the prop is a puppet).
* Make sure the audience focuses on the surprise accessories before unleashing the surprise. (If you are using a fake peanut can with pop-up snakes, hold the can in view for one more second before opening it so the audience doesn’t miss it.)