Why you should get more comfortable using props to engage your audience at your next presentation
As a PowerPoint-FREE speaker and executive presentation coach, it is my job to investigate and experiment with the many different ways in which you can engage your audience and motivate them to action during presentations. Because of the over-use and misuse of PowerPoint and other technical crutches that most presenters rely on, we must strive to find new ways to provide visual stimulation in our presentations. I have found the use of props to be quite effective.
Props are physical objects that you can use to help you tell a compelling story. They are excellent tools to open or to close your presentation – the two most vital times during your presentation. (first and last impression).
Your props can be small or large, but they must be relevant to your message and intriguing to your audience. In the past few years, I have used the following props with incredible success: pair of green shoes, a boomerang, a velvet bag full of river rocks, hard covered books, a sprig of parsley, to name just a few.
A red purse and a jar of marbles?
My client Scott Kallenbach of LIMRA International successfully used his daughter’s red leather handbag to bring to life his research insights on the power of women and their purchasing power at a major insurance industry conference. He pulled items from inside the purse (keys, wallet, lipstick, etc) to talk about the economic power that women hold and why the insurance industry needs to learn how to better serve and sell to them. He got a standing ovation…and an invitation back to speak the following year.
My other client Sean from a major financial services organization used a jar of marbles to illustrate the conflict of competing resources used in two major corporate initiatives. He emphasized that unless the senior leadership figured out a way to better allocate the internal resources, things could get really messy (like dropping all the marbles on the floor).
Both of these creative presenters used ordinary objects to help them communicate important key messages and to leave lasting impressions with hundreds of people. Imagine what props could do for you in your next presentation?
The story of the green shoes.
On March 26, 2009, I gave the “appeal” or “the ask” at the 14th annual YWCA of the Hartford Region’s In the Company of Women luncheon. I had seven minutes to get 1,400 people to feel motivated enough to write large donation checks – larger than they had planned to do when they decided to attend this remarkable event.
The script was written for me by the talented Rosemary Keogh ONeill of Kinetic Media based in Glastonbury, CT. Rosemary had a concept that we could get people to realize that it takes such little effort on our part to make a huge difference in the lives of others. Her script asked that rather than buying a new designer handbag or new pair of shoes, that we donate this money to the YWCA instead.
There was one magical part of her script that said [insert Kathy’s personal story]. That’s when I went to my closet and found the box of 9West green shoes that I had worn the year before at the 13th annual In the Company of Women luncheon. Ironically, I had only ever worn that pair of shoes once. I never missed them; I didn’t even know they were there, hidden in my closet along with all the other “I need this” items. YES – the spirit of Rosemary’s script was true in my life.
That’s when I realized that I had to bring this box of shoes on stage with me and tell my personal story. And it worked like magic!
Here’s some of the positive feedback received following my presentation.
“Kathy was AMAZING!”
“When she walked off the stage and came back to our tables I was so proud and I thought boastfully, I’m with her!”
“She compelled me to write my check out for more than I had planned!”
“YOU ROCK!!! You transformed that prepared speech that made you feel green into a masterpiece ~ memorable on steroids! Your green shoes are being celebrated by all! Talk about Being your Brand! YOU are Brilliant!!! “ – with love and admiration, Marge Piccini
Even more meaningful than this feel-good feedback, was that I was able to help the YWCA of the Hartford Region raise an unprecedented amount of money in individual contributions against a most challenging economic landscape.
I am absolutely sure that I would not have achieved such success if I stood behind the podium and gave the standard “professional” PowerPoint presentation.
So my advice to you as an executive presentation coach and motivational speaker is:
- Use a prop to help tell your story and communicate your key message;
- Get out before behind the podium. Don’t hide behind furniture. Get closer to your audience;
- Practice, practice, practice. Practice “diligent practice.” This will allow you to “put your notes down” and communicate without all the slides, note cards and other tele-prompters;
- Tell your story. Get personal with your audience and connect with them.
YES – all this possible without the use of PowerPoint!
Check out our presentation training and coaching services. We specialize in helping you become a motivated presenter, leveraging high engagement techniques without the technical dependency!
p.s. save the date for next year’s YWCA In the Company of Women Luncheon on April 8, 2010 at the Connecticut Convention Center.
p.s.s. Please email me at kathy@MarketingMotivator.net if you want to join me as a guest at my table at the 2010 YWCA In the Company of Women luncheon. Or, if you want to be a table captain for next year’s event, email me and I’ll show you how to fully leverage this leadership opportunity. It’s a great way to bring value to your professional network.