Examples of Props Used as
Virginia Wise used a potted narcissus as a metaphor for a session
on Needs Assessment: How Does your Garden Grow at a TRIPLL
Conference. Her message was the instructor needs to focus on the needs
of the learner not on the narcissistic needs of the instructor to
teach everything he or she knows.
At the same TRIPLL Conference, Ellen Schaffer used a metaphor so
vividly with out a prop that it qualifies as an imaginary prop. Her
topic was to demonstrate how to teach a complex subject--the GATT--by
teaching it to the Conference attendees. The metaphor she used for the
GATT was that you are climbing and climbing a tall mountain. After an
exhausting struggle to the top and you find a big, locked door.
A UCLA Library School and Information Science class prepared a
panel presentation on how management decisions are made. They used the
metaphor of a basketball game and had a basket ball that was used
strategically throughout to dribble, pass, and score. When one panel
finished, the ball was thrown to the next group of panelists with the
yell "Ball in your court."
Paul Mitchell used a variety of colorful plastic children's toys to
illustrate How to Make your Vision Real at a TRIPLL
Examples of Props Used to Reinforce a
Tory Trotta assumed a whole new identity at an AALL program as
Vanna White the AALL "jeopardized" legal research
At the AALL Workshop on Teaching Legal Research in San Diego, Frank
Houdek came out dressed as King Fiche in a suit of armor made of
microfiche to demonstrate changing fashions in information technology.
At a PLI program on the law librarian as manager, I brought eight
hats and put on a different one as I described each of the roles.
At TRIPLL conferences, I used mobiles to demonstrate fluid quality
of teaching legal research and to suggest variety of instructional
At a PLI program Dick Sloane used an electronic cap decorated with
battery operated blinking lights when he talked about being wired in
the electronic library.
Music was used at many of the TRIPLL meetings to suggest a mood and
Examples of Prop Serving as the Outline
for the Speaker
Ethan Katsh created an animated cartoon and used it as the outline
for his speech on Teaching Legal Research to the MTV Generation
at an AALL Annual Meeting.
I often create colorful banners out of felt and tacked them on the
wall for long presentations. Each shape on the banner is a subtopic
and the order is my outline.
Joanne Feierman used the features of a hand held computer that her
brother had given her for her presentation on lesson planning at a
Spring Asher uses a wide variety of props, including coke bottles
and cowboy boots props for her presentations on how to make
presentations at TRIPLL Conferences.
Avoiding Flops With Props
Can the prop be seen or heard by the expected audience. Small items
can be seen by small audiences. If the audience is large, the props
need to be big enough to be seen (heard) at the back of the room. Test
it out beforehand.
Where do you put or hide them until they are needed. If you leave
them at the lectern or on the speaker's table someone else may think
they are junk and trash them. This includes not only panelists but the
Will it work?
If it has batteries or needs to be wound up, there is always the
chance that it might not work--just like the new technology. Be sure
to try it at the presentation site. There is a big difference between
a rug on the floor and hardwood.
If it is a garment, can you put it on quickly?
Is it appropriate to the subject and audience?
Avoid getting silly at a serious occasion. However, you have a lot
of latitude with the right attitude. I was at a memorial service where
the eulogist used a tennis racket, a twenty dollar bill and a bottle
of wine effectively and fondly.
Even if you drop the prop, it will probably add an extra dimension
to your presentation.