How to start your business story with a bang

Part 3
How to start your business story with a bang Part 3

How to start your business story with a bang – Part 3

How to start your business story with a bang – Part 3 370 218 Shlomi Ron

Another powerful way to start your business story, especially in a live presentation, is to use props.


Props can emphasize your key messages, create an emotional impact, amplify illustrative metaphors, stir your audience attention to the prop, sometimes they could add humor, and most of all props are visible cues that make your story much more memorable.

As such, props offer physical visual cues to your audience and help you deliver your message beyond the confines of your PowerPoint presentation. Consider props as a great opportunity to stage your theater-like experience or mise en scène (i.e., the arrangement of scenery and stage properties in a play.)

If you’re planning to use props in your presentation, consider the following 3 prop types:

  1. Passive props:

    As the name indicates, these physical objects could help you to tell a story while demonstrating key elements in the plot. Your audience will passively follow your interactions with the prop as long as your story is compelling enough. For example, you could start your story up on a stage, and as you’re speaking, you could open a suitcase and take out objects that appear in your story for an extra emphasis. Another type of a passive prop could be the actual backdrop you choose to deliver your presentation in. So, plan carefully your stage experience both in terms of physical objects and sufficient lighting – for both in-person delivery or online Webinar. Avoid the urge to overload your backdrop with your business logos. Instead, find objects that support your overall narrative theme.

  2. Interactive props:

    This class of props allows you not only to capture your audience attention but also directly involving them with your chosen props. I have seen great storytellers that use interactive props such as colorful balls. They pose questions to the audience and for every right answer, they throw a ball to the person who then throws it back to the presenter. This fun game boosts audience engagement as they not only challenged with questions but also are actively engaged in catching balls.

The physical props you choose as a backdrop or hand-held objects
to amplify your story,
serve as critical communication channels with your audience

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3. Digital props:

Here I am not referring to the content of the slides you control from the stage, but how you can allow your audience to share this control. This tactic takes the benefits of Interactive Props one level up. A great example you typically find in major conferences where all attendees install the event official mobile app. In the app in addition to to the agenda, collaborative tools and direct messaging to each attendee, attendees can also participate in live polls during a presentation, and see the results in realtime up on the screen. This experience provides a real-time gratification or “opinion room temperature” to a current topic the presenter is talking about. Another tactic, we often offer VSI clients, is the ability to capture a formal presentation that involves lively discussion with the audience, through the use of real-time illustration.  All of a sudden, the boring attack of bullet points is transformed into a metaphorical visual storytelling experience that simplifies the key ideas.

Regardless of the type of prop you choose to use, it’s important that you first nail down a compelling story to share. You see, props can’t hide a bland story that is missing key narrative elements or that has unclear moral. So ensure you follow this simple props checklist:

  1. Test your story strength: Try your story on your audience without props to ensure you have a compelling story.
  2. Make narrative changes: Based on your test results, make changes to your story as needed.
  3. Integrate prop areas: Review your story script and highlight parts you want to extra-emphasize using a prop.
  4. Validate prop: Ask yourself, does the prop type supports the story or creates an unnecessary distraction.
  5. Practice prop delivery: If it’s the former great, now proceed to a final dry run. First, privately to gain motor proficiency if your prop requires physical command and later by testing with a friendly audience of friends and/or family.
  6. Deliver your prop-powered story: Deliver your story with your tested props and watch closely your audience reactions to ensure you achieved your desired impact.
  7. Optimize future experiences: After you deliver your prop-powered presentation, don’t forget to survey your audience to ensure you captured any potential blind spots.

What do you think? Feel free to share your experiences using props in your storytelling. Don’t let the market write your story for you. Take control of your narrative! Schedule a FREE conversation to learn more about our Visual Storytelling Workshop.

Shlomi Ron

Shlomi Ron is the founder and CEO of the Visual Storytelling Institute, a Miami-based think tank with a mission to bring the gospel of visual storytelling from the world of art to more human-centric and purpose-driven marketing. A digital marketing veteran with over 20 years of experience working both on the agency and brand sides for Fortune 100/500 brands such as Nokia, IBM, and American Express. He started VSI to combine his marketing expertise with his passion for visual stories stemming from his interests in classic Italian cinema and managing the estate of video art pioneer, Buky Schwartz. At VSI, he helps brands rise above the communication noise through visual storytelling consulting, training, and thought leadership. Select clients include Estée Lauder, Microsoft, and Cable & Wireless – to name a few. He currently teaches Brand Storytelling at the University of Miami’s Business School. Thought leader and speaker at key marketing conferences. He is also the host of the Visual Storytelling Today podcast, which ranks in the top 10 best business storytelling podcasts on the Web. His book: Total Acuity: Tales with Marketing Morals to Help You Create Richer Visual Brand Stories. Outside work, he is a nascent bread baker, The Moth fan, and longtime fedora wearer likely to jive with his classic Italian cinema interest.

All stories by: Shlomi Ron

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