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In public speaking, a prop is any physical item that you can use to emphasise a point.  Used strategically, props can help you engage your audience and make your speech more memorable. The word “prop” comes from the term “theatrical property”, which refers to objects used by actors in a play to add realism to the story and to help advance the narrative.

Anything that is on stage with you can be used as a prop: from the lecterns and flipcharts, to costumes, noisemakers or any other object you want to bring along to make your point stick.

Peter Billingham is great at using props in a very creative and resourceful way. He has shared with us a blogpost where he illustrates this in more detail:

Using Props for Effective Speaking
By Peter Billingham

Have you ever sat listened to a presentation or speech, (especially first session in the afternoon after a heavy lunch), and struggled to keep your eyes open? As you listen to the presenter drone on, your eyes get heavier and heavier, and you experience sheer ecstasy when you close them even for a split second. But then, your head jolts! You wonder if you have been asleep for minutes? Did I snore? Is everyone looking at me? We have all possibly experienced that feeling, and nothing could be worse, nothing that is, unless you are the person speaking! You stand at the front and look out at the sea of faces, “the lights are on, but no one is at home!” With a little creativity, public speaking and presentations can come alive and keep an audience engaged. In this post I want to show how using props for effective speaking has helped me capture attention, how a hose pipe, bread making machine and a lump of clay added a different dimension to presentations I have made, and how these ideas may help you bring your next speech alive.

Tom Stoppard, the British playwright, said, “You can’t but know that if you can capture the emotions of the audience as well as their minds, the play will work better, because it’s a narrative art form.” I think the same could be said about public speaking and making presentations, it is an art form. I am on a quest to help people become “artful speakers” being confident, practised and proficient when speaking in public sets people apart. The difference between boring and captivating is often very little. Learning some basic techniques, along with creativity and rehearsal, can help you stand out in boardrooms, lecture halls and sales presentations. Confidence on your feet can lead to promotion, influence and even more sales. One way you can do this is by adding an appropriate “prop” to illustrate a point for effective speaking and capture attention in your next presentation.

The Feeling of Fear

(…) Once I was speaking on the nature of fear and how fear can strangle opportunity from our lives. There are some things that we should genuinely fear, but quite often what we fear and what consumes our emotions is ungrounded and unlikely to happen. To illustrate the point I had on the stage a large hessian sack and a hose pipe had been coiled up inside and I explained that it was a snake. You could immediately sense the tension in the room rise. Unknown to the audience, I had attached to the sack some nylon fishing line and this was being held by an assistant. At the given moment, a significant tug on this fishing line caused the sack to lurch forward towards the audience! The people in the front row shot out of their seats and headed for the door! After the uproar had died down, I opened the bag (some were still very trepidatious) and held up the hose pipe and said, “what we fear, is often unfounded, it feels like fear, it causes us to react like fear, but it is a wasted emotion, what are you fearing that isn’t real?” The point was made, and effective speaking made stronger because of a visual prop of a hose pipe in a hessian sack.

The Aroma of Bread

Another time, I was speaking in NewSong Community Church, on how people’s names describe their characters. We know that many names have a meaning behind them, in ancient Hebrew and Greek literature, the persons name was extremely symbolic about their character. That day I was speaking on how Jesus called himself “The Bread of Life.” When I think of bread, it’s the smell of new baked bread that comes to mind, it’s a distinctive aroma for me, it conjures up images of sustenance, home and safety. I arrived early and set up some home bread making machines in the church and timed them so as I was starting to speak about “The Bread of Life” the aroma of baking bread would be starting to drift around the room. The look on peoples faces as their noses picked up the distinctive smell, getting stronger and stronger as I spoke was captivating. You could hear people whispering, “can you smell bread cooking?” I concluded my speech, the timers buzzed and I revealed the bread making machines. As I took the hot bread and we passed the loaf around the congregation to take and eat some, it made the point stick even more memorably because the smell of the bread had added another dimension to the presentation.

Full post available here.




Voxgig Podcast

Coming Soon… 

I am delighted to announce that  voxgig is starting a podcast series! The title of the series is ‘Fireside with voxgig’. In each podcast, I’ll be interviewing leading experts from the events industry.  The aim is to deliver high quality insights, valuable public speaking tips and enjoyable personal success stories, all in a relaxed, informal and chatty style. Keep an eye out here for the first podcast in the series, coming soon. 

Speaker Profile

Caroline is on stage with a chest of drawers made to look like a male upper half of a body, She is holding a diagram of the chest

The Surprise Secret to Speaking with Confidence
Caroline Goyder

Caroline Goyder is a leading voice coach, trainer and keynote speaker. In this fun and personal TEDx presentation, she shares a story of moving from stage-paralysis to expressive self. Accompanied by a very unique prop – a human-shaped chest of drawers used as a metaphor for breathing – she encourages us to use our voice as an instrument and really find the confidence within.

Learn from the Best

image from movie "Erin Brockovich", Lawyer for the company that poisoned the water is just about to drink from a glass filled with that same contaminated water.

A Lame-Ass Offer – Erin Brockovich

Julia Roberts plays Erin Brockovich

On it’s own this is a powerful, emotional speech. Add the water prop and it is a winning argument! There is no speech that couldn’t be made better by using a well placed prop for emphasis.

Tell me…

What is your biggest challenge as an event speaker?

This newsletter is for you. I want it to resonate with you.

So go ahead, hit reply, and tell me what you want to read about. Or email me at richard@voxgig.com. You can tweet too: @voxgig.

I’ll address the most pressing issues in each edition.

Book of the Week

Book cover image with text no pictures

The Quick & Easy Way to Effective Speaking

Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie, known as the father of the self-help movement, packs an incredible breadth of public speaking advice into a short, easy-to-read format. This book includes a wide variety of tips on how to become more confident, develop your speech, use props effectively, and craft precise and effective calls to action.

Blog Post

How to “Prop Up” your Next Presentation

John Zimmer

A must-read (and watch) that includes 10 tips for using props, each one of them illustrated with a video example. Grab a cup of coffee, sit down and enjoy.




Three Conferences


Nashville Analytics Summit

Nashville Analytics Summit

One of Nashville’s largest, locally grown tech events is around the corner. With steady growth since 2013, the summit takes place over two days with hands-on workshops and speaker presentations around how to effectively leverage big data and analytics. The venue is conveniently located across from the Music City Center and reflects the nature of Nashville’s vibrant music culture. Might be time to do some exploring!

We welcome developers and enthusiasts of all skill levels to come join us while we discuss the latest trends and technologies in our industry.


International Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics & IoT

International Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics & IoT

Over the course of two days, topics related to Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and IoT will be covered in this international conference, bringing global attendees and speakers together. Practical application in the medical field, flight technology, the future, Big Data, and research and development will be at the forefront of the agenda. You can visit Mickey Mouse at nearby Disneyland Paris or take the 20 minute trip right into the city in your free time.




Latin American women with a passion for technology will come together from more than 12 countries to share a common space and discuss topics related to feminine inclusion and gender equality in the tech industry. It’s a great opportunity to expand your professional network with both women and men who share this passion, while hearing from women leaders in the region and participating in the activities planned. There’s a lot going on, so be sure to check the agenda and start making travel plans!




CFP Calendar

These are the CFP deadline dates and submission pages.

Speaker Training

Do you speak at conferences? Want to learn how to give the very best talks? Or are you just starting out and want to overcome the fear of speaking on stage?
We are running speaker training workshops in Dublin, Ireland and London, U.K. over the coming months.

There is a 10% OFF early bird discount.

To find out more follow the links below.

Public speaking with Debbie Forster

London, UK – Thursday October 18, 2018 | More Details

Giving great talks with Russ Miles

London, UK – Thursday November 8, 2018 | More Details




A favour…

Can I ask you for a favour? If you enjoy this newsletter, and if you find it useful, please consider recommending it to a friend who is learning to give technical talks, or who aspires to do so. I meet so many cool programmers who have brilliant things to share with the world—that’s you!

Please help me to improve this newsletter – I’d love to hear your suggestions! You can email me directly at richard@voxgig.com. You can tweet too: @voxgig. Thank you so much for reading!

A special thanks and shout out to TammyCora, and David for helping to make this newsletter even better!


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