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How can you effectively use a prop or visual aid in your presentation? The answer may lie inside this envelope. I'll reveal its exciting contents at the end of this video. Until then, if you are going to use props in your presentation, make sure you have a very good reason to do so. In general, there are three great reasons why you might want to use a prop. The number one reason is demonstration. It's a basic truth: for most demos, showing is far more effective than telling.
If you want to have a little fun over lunch, try asking a friend what a xylophone is. It's almost a sure bet that your friend won't be able to use only his words. He might start playing an invisible xylophone to help make you understand. Audiences long to see and even interact with a prop that's being demoed, even if it's imaginary. The second reason you might want to use a prop is to provide a concrete metaphor for an abstract concept. If you want to talk about marketshare at your company for example, you might want to show your audience a pie chart.
Props like graphs, charts, and photos, they can help an audience visualize abstract and numerical concepts. The third reason you might want to use a prop is for dramatic effect. Use a prop when you want to provoke an emotional response. It's one thing to simply tell an audience that mosquitoes cause malaria; it's quite another if you bring out a quart jar, open it, and tell your audience that you have just released a few mosquitoes into the room. Microsoft founder Bill Gates did just that in a TED talk.
He effectively used a prop to illicit a very emotional audience response. Number one, rehearse with your prop. Practice relentlessly. This is especially important for demonstration. If you are presenting yourself as an authority on how to use the prop, you better know exactly how it works, and how to recover if things go wrong. Number two, remember, every slide in your PowerPoint presentation is actually a prop. If your slide or prop isn't demonstrating something, serving as a metaphor, or adding dramatic effect, you probably need to eliminate it entirely from your presentation.
Number three, the way you present your prop can enhance its overall effectiveness. In one of his legendary Mac World presentations, Steve Jobs told his audience that a new product was so thin it could fit into an interoffice envelope. He held up the envelope and then he slowly revealed the new product, a MacBook Air, and the crowd went wild. Keeping your prop hidden and performing a slow dramatic reveal can build anticipation and add to the excitement of a new product or an award announcement.
Remember, if your prop isn't necessary, cut it. If you are going to use one, use it for a great reason, and always rehearse with your props relentlessly.
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