I was coaching several panelists on how to make a virtual webinar/meeting more interesting and I suggested they “show and tell” something about themselves and/or the topic.
In this case, they were talking about disinfecting surgical tools and I asked, “So, do you have a tool that you can actually SHOW the audience?” Why yes! she had a hemostatic clamp that she could show where all the crud can build up and how important it is to disinfect the instrument properly! (It actually looks like scissors.)
Excellent news! I suggested that she actually practice using the prop in front of the camera and use a pencil or something to point at specific areas. Ideally, the audience should be able to see the entire prop within their field of vision of your camera. If and when they need to see detail, you need to hold it closer to the camera.
Well, during the webinar, she expertly showed the clamp and told some interesting things about it. The result? She was the hit of the conference!
Simply put, props bring your words to life. You can use props to strengthen your audience’s ability to visualize, understand, accept, and remember an idea, concept, or theme during a meeting, webinar, or panel discussion.
Here are a few examples to help spur your thinking:
ENHANCERS. For a meeting about oyster restoration in the Chesapeake Bay, one panelist brought an actual local oyster, another brought in a replica of a non-native oyster, and another brought in a piece of aqua farming material. It set the context in real-world terms. These props enhanced our understanding and appreciation for the topic.
THEATRICAL. Actors use props to help the audience believe and follow what they are saying. Moderators and panelists can too. For example, hold up the magazine or book you are quoting.
METAPHORICAL. Metaphorical props are used to make or reinforce your point. For example, show a Slinky® to illustrate the need for flexibility or a telescoping spyglass to show how strategic, business, and operational plans all need to be integrated with each other.
MODEL. A model is a representation (usually smaller) of an object, person, or concept. Although you cannot bring a bulldozer into a meeting, you can certainly bring a toy bulldozer with you! Doctors often point to an organ model as they explain a physiological problem.
Or take us on a tour of your home, office, or location. Just make sure you can walk around with your camera!
In a pinch, use a slide that is a picture of the prop—just in case they can’t bring it to the meeting because it’s too big, too small, too dangerous, or too weird.
And don’t forget the opportunity to use Show & Tell as an icebreaker!
For more information about how to lead your team in the virtual environment, use these resources.
KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF | Master, CSP is a high-stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator. She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 27 years. She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action. Her latest book, 123 Ways to Add Pizazz to a Panel Discussion was published in January 2021.