Q: When is a speech not a speech?
A: When it is spelt ‘speach’.
And also when it becomes a cabaret act.
Whether you’re giving a business presentation or a wedding speech, props can make or break the day. And so whether you are thinking about PowerPoint slides, blown-up pictures, objects of special significance or something completely innovative, here are a few things to consider:
- Ensure the prop is relevant and adds value to your speech. If you think it might cause offense, forget about it.
- Try to use it as the punch line, rather than leaving the audience wondering what it’s doing there in the first place.
- Whilst it’s useful to use a prop to divert attention from you if you’re nervous about having everyone’s eyes on you, don’t let it completely detract from what you’re saying. First and foremost you want them to listen to you.
- Don’t forget that your prop needs to be big enough to be seen by short-sighted people at the back of the room.
- As you would with your speech and presentation, practise with the prop, rather than hoping it all comes together on the day. You may find it useful to enlist a helper to ensure it appears and disappears smoothly and easily.
- Check that the venue has the appropriate lighting or technology to accommodate your props.
- Never leave a comical prop by your side when you’re making a serious point.
- And finally, whilst the odd prop can add value, too many can suffocate the speech or presentation, so don’t get carried away.
If after reading this you’re still struggling to work out how best to use your props (or whether to use them at all), give me a call on +44 (0)207 118 1600.
All the best
PS – if you are a Best Man thinking about asking a bunch of women in the audience to rattle keys when you bring up the question of all the groom’s exes, I have one piece of advice: