Use Props, Not Just Slides, in Your Presentation

There’s a big difference between a prop and other kinds of visual aids like PowerPoint slides. While both are visual, a prop is a physical object that relates to your points or topic. A prop will provide more drama, raise more audience interest, and can help audiences remember your points. If a prop isn’t handled correctly, however, it could leave your audience feeling confused and distracted. That’s why it’s better for more experienced presenters to use them.

  • What Props Can Do for You
    As already mentioned, props can give you some very real advantages when giving a presentation. In addition to making your presentation more dramatic, humorous, interesting, and memorable, it can also prove an important point, energize the audience, and inspire more audience participation.

Many presenters find that people better understand their message when they use a prop to convey it. Some professional presenters even reward audience members by giving them the prop at the end of the presentation.

  • What You DON’T Want Them to Do
    The list of possible benefits of props is extensive. On the other hand, if you don’t use your props appropriately, they could actually detract from your presentation rather than enhance it. To keep this from happening, make sure the props relate to a specific point or your overall message. Audiences find the use of unrelated props contrived and pretentious, which will hurt your credibility as a speaker and the believability of your message.

Also, you should use props sparingly. Unless you’re a professional comic presenting over-the-top humor, using an endless array of props may just make you look silly and as if you’re not taking yourself or your topic very seriously. To find a good balance, limit your use of props to one per main point, or even one or two at the open and/or close of your presentation.

  • Some Presentation Skills and Advice for Using Props
    Of course, the most important thing to do when using a prop is practice with it. If you’ve never handled it until the day of the presentation, you’re asking for trouble, especially if you need to turn it on, off, or manipulate it in some way. Practice with it each time you practice your presentation.

Try a “reveal.” If it’s appropriate to your presentation, an effective technique is to have your prop on a nearby table, but covered with a cloth. At the right time, you can walk over and reveal what’s under the cloth and then proceed. Up until that moment, audiences will be wondering what’s on the table.

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