Four Reasons to Use Props

As a former preacher and current public speaker, I place high value on using props to get my message across. I’m using the acronym CAVE to spell out four critical reasons why we should use objects in our public speaking:

Connect your audience with your story or idea. Preaching for Palm Sunday service years ago I asked the congregation to throw their coats into the aisle. It was a simple but bold request to do something similar to what the crowd did for Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem on a colt many  years ago. They were throwing their tunics down which was probably their only outer wrap that they owned and it was likely to get dirty, maybe torn, and unfortunately for some, have a some horse manure land on it. It was a way to honor their new king. Asking the congregation to throw their coats in the aisle connecting them with the story and made it personal.

Anchor your message in the minds of your audience. How many times do we forget rather quickly a sermon or speech soon after we heard it? We can often remember ideas when they are associated with something we see. When talking about the two holes in our hearts I created a large 3 foot wide brightly painted heart to put on the platform. I asked for some volunteers to place common household objects into each of the two holes that I had cut into the heart. It created a mental picture that would not soon fade.

Visualize your ideas. When performing weddings I love to make the sermon very personal to the couple and highlight their wonderful traits and uniqueness. For Eric and Kara I used a skill saw and a violin. Eric was a carpenter and Kara was a musician. They didn’t know I was going to pull these objects out and talk about how these represent them in multiple ways. I tied them together by pointing out how they both work with wood to make something beautiful and how Eric and Kara will be working together to make a beautiful life together. Not only did they really enjoy it when I fired up the skill saw and ran the bow across the strings of the violin, but I created an anchor of a delightful day in their lives.

Engage your audience’s imagination. An object can jump start your presentation even before you start speaking. For example, having an elegante table set for dinner on the platform before you start speaking got my congregation wondering what I was going to be talking about that day. Curiosity keeps our attention.

Use a prop the next time you speak and watch your audience CAVE into your ideas.


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