Discover how mosquitoes were used as props in a speech as Bedford speaker shares her top tips

An award-winning public speaker has shared her tips on how to use props when giving speeches.
Vinette Hoffman-JacksonVinette Hoffman-Jackson
Vinette Hoffman-Jackson

Bedford-based Vinette Hoffman-Jackson is president of Bedford Speakers, part of of Toastmasters International, a not-for-profit organisation that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a worldwide network of clubs.

Vinette said: “When we give a speech or presentation we want what we say to be remembered and props are an excellent way to make our ideas standout and be just that – memorable.” Here are her tips:

Sounds - a sound creating prop adds variety and interest. An unexpected noise can also elicit a physical response which involves your audience even more in your speech.

Imagery - most people tend to recall things in pictures. Using pictures or videos in your speech adds greater opportunity for your speech to be memorable. Imagery is the simplest and most effective prop.

Clothes - your clothes communicate with the audience immediately. Choose your colours, patterns, styles, designs that may endear you to your audience and/or enhance your credibility.

Movement - using a prop that moves or interacts with the audience gets people to move their eyes, heads, or bodies towards a focal point. It focusses their attention to where you want them to look.

Smells - use a prop that smells: Did that statement cause you to react? Champion speaker Dananjaya Hettiarachchi smells a rose as he starts his speech. As most audience members have experienced smelling a flower, this serves to trick their olfactory senses into thinking they are having a similar experience.

Be specific - if you want to make your audience feel special use a prop that is specific to their culture, geographical location, or some shared passion. It will enhance your speech and build your credibility as a thoughtful, caring and well researched speaker.

Humour - most experienced speakers will usually get the audience to laugh within the first 30 seconds on stage. Your humorous prop could be as simple as putting on a hat or showing a slide.

Live props - in his 2009 TED talk Bill Gates opened a jar of live mosquitoes. The audience members were attentive and emotionally connected by their fear of getting bitten by a mosquito that might cause malaria. Unforgettable!

Bedford Speakers meets twice a month on the 2nd and 4th Thursday at 7.15pm at the University of Bedford. Visit