Have you ever wanted to share the story of your trip to Costa Rica last summer? Would using a souvenir from that trip help you enhance your story? (For us on the younger side 😉 remember “Show and Tell” from elementary school days?)
Let’s say you are sharing something about your culture and heritage. How do you make that story unique? Would sharing an artifact or something from your culture (like pictures) help make it unique?
How do you grab the audience’s attention during a speech, and maintain it throughout your speech? How do you make it memorable?
Using props is a great way to tell stories and make them memorable. You did so well during your “Show and Tell” days and you can do it now! Props are objects you can use to enhance a speech. Props can include almost anything including pictures, videos, souvenirs and even packaged foods! When it comes to pictures, slides, audio and video clips (which are collectively known as “media”), you can share information, interesting facts and communicate more efficiently by leveraging media.
With props, you can make a speech easier to relate to, entertaining, and comprehensible (able to be understood). Props can also be used to add humor and keep the audience engaged and are used by some of the best speakers. A simpler example is… instead of just talking about those amazing beaches that you saw on your trip, you could include a few pictures of you lying under an umbrella or bring along a pretty seashell or souvenir from the place you visited. One of my favorite examples of using a prop is by the 2015 Toastmasters World Champion of Public Speaking: Dananjaya Hettiarachchi – see how he uses a rose to make his point in his powerful speech.
But why exactly are these props so useful? There are three main reasons why: they are useful – they are the concrete, the icing, and the mummy’s face… Huh?! You are probably thinking that I’m going crazy… don’t worry, just keep reading! 😉 )
Props are the “concrete” within the foundation of the speeches that incorporate or use them well. They help people understand, enjoy, get entertained and connect with you (as the speaker) and your speech.
Props are the “icing” on your speech because, when they are used well, they provide the enhancement, like the “icing on the cake” (Sneo loves icing more than the cake!)
Finally, props are the “mummy’s face” because they draw the audience’s attention and focus, like how focal points do in artwork. A great example of this is Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.” (see Sneo’s rendition on the left here)
When you look at the painting, the first thing that pops out at you is the shocked face of Sneo in the foreground. (Fun fact: One popular theory as to why the person in the painting is screaming is based off of Munch’s own reaction to the sky above his very head turning red while he was on a boat outing. This theory came about because of Munch’s records of a certain volcanic sunset – but that’s a story for another time. ) But why did I refer to this aspect of props as being “the mummy’s face”?!? Did you know that (though Munch never seem to have confirmed this theory) the famous “scream face” may have been modeled after that of a mummy?
As you can see, props really are one of the greatest tools that any speaker has at their disposal. If you are speaking at school, check with your instructor, organizer, teacher and be sure to include a prop or two in your speech! So, now you know why props are the concrete, the icing, the mummy’s face and just nifty things overall.