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Using Props


Techniques Public speaking > Speaking Tips > Using Props

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



Use physical items to help get a point across.

One way is to start by thinking about the point you want to drive home. Then extend the idea to metaphors by asking 'What is it like?' Then seek a physical item that clearly represents the metaphor. You can then present the item and use it to go back from the metaphor into the idea.

Props can also be things that you are demonstrating or selling. Even a chair or microphone or anything on-stage is a prop which you can press into service.

The 'reveal' is the point at which you present the object and can be done casually, such as taking a ball out of your pocket, or with more drama, such as when you draw a sword.

You can use all kinds of props, even impromptu items like a microphone or a drinking glass (these are handy if you want to appear spontaneous. With creative thinking, you can utilize almost anything as a prop, although of course it is usually better to plan beforehand and bring the props you need.


I take a ball out of my pocket and bounce it thoughtfully. I then ask the audience if they've ever felt like the ball, being bounced around the place, never knowing which way they will be sent next. I then talk about a method of leadership that rolls the ball gently in the right direction rather than 'ricochet leadership' that bats us all over the place.


We tend to think in concrete ways, using images of three-dimensional things even when we are dealing with complex concepts. A physical metaphor can hence be easier to grasp.

We also remember physical things better than spoken ideas. If you can get them to remember the prop, for example by using it in a dramatic way, then they will also more likely recall the idea that you attached to it.

It is generally better to hide props until they are needed, as this increases the drama of the moment. Another approach is to leave the props in full view where people may wonder what they are for and gain closure only when you use them.

See also

Using props in Storytelling, Memory


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