Monday, April 12, 2021

Speaking Tips for Authors & Using Props Online

by Yvonne Ortega @YvonneOrtega1

How can you use props in professional presentations online? 

First, number and place your props in order. 

If you number your props, then you can place them in the order that you need them. If you don’t have them in order, panic may set in when you search for the one you need. I watched a virtual event in which the speaker couldn’t find his next prop. His smile became a frown, and beads of perspiration formed on his forehead. I felt sorry for him. I wondered if his blood pressure had sky-rocketed when the armpits of his shirt looked like he needed to use a suction pump on them.

At my first TV interview, I had my props in the order I needed them. However, I should have made sure they were all unwrapped. The seconds it took to unwrap the mask I used as a prop seemed like hours. 

Second, keep your audience engaged with props. 

You can engage your audience even if you’ve never met them before. Inform the event planner ahead of time to ensure attendees have their name on the screen. Call on them by name when you ask questions. Include polls where you use ScreenShare and have them answer on the spot. One of your props for engagement is music at the break for ten or fifteen minutes every hour and a half. Your attendees cannot sit for three hours or all-day long. They may lose interest, get sleepy, read their email, or text. They need to stretch, use the restroom, get a drink of water, a cup of coffee or tea. Some may look for their favorite milk chocolate or dark chocolate snack.

Include fun music during the break, and let them dance the Hokey Pokey, the Chicken Dance, or the Charleston. The introverts may turn off their video. That’s okay. The extroverts may leave theirs on and enjoy every second of the music break. 

Third, test your background ahead of time.

Test your background ahead of time. What’s behind you can make a big difference to your attendees. It can enhance or distract from your virtual presentation.

A colleague facilitated a group online. Because of the humidity in the room, she pinned her hair up. It looked like the vase behind her sat on her head. 

I used a downloadable virtual background for an interview. With the slightest movement, my hair moved on the screen, and my head looked pointed. The host deleted the footage with my flying hair and pointed head, and I no longer use that virtual background. Some speakers say a green screen behind the virtual background helps. Others disagree and add that a green screen is too expensive anyway. Whatever you decide, get online ahead of time to see how you look. 

In summary, follow these tips on the use of props in professional presentations online:
  • Number and place your props in order
  • Keep your audience engaged with them
  • Test your background ahead of time
Which of these three speaking tips will you focus on this week?


Yvonne’s background as a licensed professional counselor brings a unique perspective into the heart of women. She’s a speaking and writing coach and the owner of Moving from Broken to Beautiful®, LLC. She belongs to the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, the Christian Authors Network, the National Speakers Association, and Toastmasters International.

She celebrates life at the beach, where she walks, builds sand castles, blows bubbles, and dances.


  1. I've been playing with the idea of making YouTube videos. Your tips will be very helpful and hopefully keep me out of trouble! Thank you.

    1. You're welcome, Barbara Latta. May these tips serve your YouTube videos well.

    2. You're welcome, Barbara Latta. I hope these tips serve you well on your YouTube videos.

    3. You're welcome, Barbara Latta. May the tips serve you well and keep you out of trouble on your YouTube videos.

  2. Yvonne, thank you sharing for these very specific, practical techniques. :)

  3. I'm still learning, so thanks for these great tips!

    1. Crystal Bowman, you're so welcome. We all continue to learn as long as we're doing virtual presentations.

  4. Yvonne, thank you for these great tips!

  5. Valuable information Yvonne. Thank you for the guidance and tips. :-)

  6. Melissa Henderson, you're welcome.