Focus Your Message With Props and Anecdotes

Some time ago I was on program with a popular speaker.  As we arrived on stage together, I noticed that he had one of the hotel’s towels in his hand.

“What are you going to do with the towel?” I asked.

“I never make a presentation without a stage prop,” he replied.

During his talk, the presenter raised, lowered, flapped and twirled the towel a half dozen times as he told stories that drove home customer service suggestions.

Pictures are fine.  PowerPoint slides are good so long as they contain only a few bullet points.   By all means avoid numerous slides—for an hour presentation, think five or six, not fifteen or twenty slides.

Slides with detailed information are brutal–enthusiasm killers.  If you want to send participants scampering out the door, read long descriptions on the slides.  If your message requires a lot of detail, put it in a handout.

Reinforce your message with anecdotes, examples, stories, pictures, diagrams, an artist’s rendering; maybe even a stage prop.

When your audience leans forward, interrupts, asks questions and argues a point, relax and enjoy the event.  Participants are engaged.  You are communicating effectively.  You will not need audience surveys to know that you have connected.