Five guidelines for using a prop during a speech

March 22, 2011

When giving a speech, make sure you're not hiding behind your props.

When you’re giving a speech, particularly if you’re a little bit nervous about it, you may often find yourself hiding behind the podium or even behind any posters or props you might have with you.

However, to be an effective speaker, you must also be confident in your abilities and avoid hiding behind your exhibit. They can be distracting to audience members and prevent them from absorbing the information and also taking the action you want them to take.

The following are a few tried-and-true tips from Dale Carnegie Training of Central Indiana that will help improve your presentations:

Pick up your exhibit only when you are going to use it. If you walk around with the prop in your hand, chances are your audience members will be looking at it instead of you. Keep distractions to a minimum by leaving it on a table or podium until it makes sense to use it.

Hold your exhibit high enough so all can see it. If you’re nervous in front of a crowd of people, you may forget that holding your exhibit at chest level isn’t the best way for John Smith in the back row to see what it is, so hold it high and proudly.

Hold your exhibit so it does not hide your face. You’re the star of the show, so don’t let your prop get in the way.

Talk to the audience, not to the exhibit. Again, inexperienced speakers might be more comfortable talking to an object as opposed to a large audience, but resist the urge to do so. If you’re turned away from your viewers, they may find it hard to hear you, too.

When you are finished with your exhibit, put it aside. There’s no need to drag your exhibit around with you until the end of your presentation. When it’s no longer useful, set it on a table or podium so as not to be a distraction.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Central Indiana, providers of professional development and management development courses and information in Indiana. We would love to connect with you on Facebook.

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