Nearly anything can be a prop: a model car, a hat, a Slinky, a hand puppet. People love to see “things, ” so an object or a model of what you are talking about can complement your topic. Props are considered anything your mind can imagine that will get and keep attention focused on you and your subject. Some people consider props among the best techniques for adding interest, humor, and variety to presentations and speeches.
Sometimes an object works better than a person. Case in point: a student planned to give a speech on CPR. She considered asking a classmate to volunteer to help her, and this could have worked well. But when she posted her planned speech topic on the class discussion forum, a classmate, who was an ambulance driver, volunteered to secure a CPR dummy for her speech. The dummy worked well, since she could practice many times in advance of the class without putting undue burden on a friend.
Another time to use an object or a scale model is if the original object is too large to bring in. For instance, if you are giving a speech about plane safety, an actual 747 would be difficult to bring to class (especially when you have enough trouble trying to find a place to park your car in the school parking lot). Showing a scale model of the plane would be a manageable alternative. When planning for the use of a prop, keep the following in mind:
- Make sure that you can easily transport your object or model and that you will have somewhere to keep it if you can’t carry it around all day
- Make sure that the object can be seen by all members of the audience. If the object is too small to be seen, you could pass it around, but you will then compete with it. If a document camera is available, this might be a better option, to magnify the object to the whole audience.
- Try not to show the object until you are ready to use it. You don’t want to compete with a prop before you reveal it.
- Tell the audience exactly what the object is once you show it to them to maximize their comprehension