Prop Up Your Presentation

By Heather Baldwin

The next time you need to drive home an important message and want that message to stick in your audience’s mind, consider using props, suggests Beth Souther, marketing director with Atlanta-based international retail consulting firm Kurt Salmon Associates (KSA) and a veteran presenter. After all, humans are visual learners. If you can combine a compelling story with a well-placed prop, your clients will have a hard time forgetting your message.

Souther recently worked with Joey Asher, president of Chambers & Asher Speechworks in Atlanta, to devise a story-prop combination that has been used successfully on several occasions. Souther’s message to clients is that they need to have visibility into their whole supply chain so they have the right product in the right place at the right time – a capability KSA can help them achieve. How does Souther drive home that message? She starts by talking about a time she attended a conference in Phoenix, a city known for its dry, sunny days. “In Phoenix it never rains,” says Souther, “but during this conference there was a torrential downpour. We were planning to go sightseeing one afternoon and the gift shop did not have one single umbrella in stock.” What will you do, she then asks her audience, if you’re a retailer and El Nino has struck and you’re not accustomed to stocking umbrellas?

As a team member walks behind her and pops open an umbrella, Souther tells her audience they need to be as nimble as street vendors in New York when it comes to their supply chain. “Have you ever been in New York when it rains?” she asks. “Street vendors seem to pop up out of the sewers with umbrellas to sell.” Now, says Souther, her clients have two unforgettable mental images – the downpour in Phoenix and street vendors popping up in New York – along with the visual image of an umbrella opening onstage. And that’s when she drives home her message: “With KSA’s help,” she tells the audience, “you can be nimble with communication up and down the supply chain so you always have the right product at the right time.” With that one-two punch, KSA’s message is firmly lodged in the minds of potential clients – and readily recalled when it’s time to make a contract decision.