Amy Carroll » Speaking Tips » The Power of Props

The Power of Props

This post was written by my sweet friend, Lynn Cowell.  Please don’t miss out on the information about her newly release book for teen girls His Revolutionary Love.

 He started at the bottom; squeezing out all the toothpaste forming a mountain. “Try to put all the toothpaste back.” he instructed; handing me the flattened tube. I just stared at that blue blob and wondered “How?” He knew it was impossible. Still he chose to watch me sweat it out. After a minute, he gently said, “That’s how words are. Once, they’re out; you can’t put them back.”

Though that example happened to me years ago, the fact that words cannot be retracted has stuck with me all due to the power of props. That’s the type of “sticking” power that I have tried to create when I have only 35 – 40 minutes to speak to a group.

Our goal when we speak is to create life change. How can life change be created though if our audience forgets our message? Leading teens and their moms to find their completion in Christ is my passion. As women, we desperately need to be filled by Jesus and find our value in Him and Him alone. For many, though, this concept is vague; one that could be easily forgotten. Completion? Value? What does that really look like? When I speak, I need some way to make my spiritual point concrete. I need to make it stick. Props do that.

Here is an example in my talk, “His Revolutionary Love: Jesus’ Radical Pursuit of You”. Using props, I create a visual of what it means to be filled with Jesus. Feel free to skip up to 9:47 in order to just watch the part of my message using props.

When using props, here are a couple of helpful hints:
1) Be sure that your props are elevated enough, allowing everyone to be able to see. There is nothing more frustrating than feeling like you are missing out on something!
2) If possible, try to give your audience a take away that will remind them of your prop. I have a message where I used a spinning top toy. I then purchased online miniature tops to give to each attendee.
3) If you are going to need your event coordinator to supply the props (I have to do this when I am flying), be sure to give her ample time to collect the props as well as locate an appropriate table. Be sure to not spring this on her last minute.
4) When using water, try using food coloring so that they can see it more clearly.
5) Keep a running list of prop ideas when they come to mind. It is a lot easier to write them down as they come then when you have an event coming up.
6) Invoke the help of friends. Maybe you are like me and don’t consider yourself very creative. Ask a friend who is creative to read your talk and help you to come up with a prop.

What props have you used when you speak? Let’s take some time to share with each other ways we have found to make our messages stick. Just click on “comments” below.

Lynn Cowell’s heart is to lead teens and their moms to find completion in Christ. Between carpooling and sleepovers, she speaks and writes for Proverbs 31 ministries as well as magazines such as Susie and Focus on the Family. Her first book, “His Revolutionary Love; Jesus’ Radical Pursuit of You” was just released. She and her husband, Greg, also have a college age son, Zach. Lynn loves sushi, anything that combines chocolate and peanut butter and well-worn sweatshirts. You can connect with Lynn on her blog at and on FaceBook at Lynn Martin Cowell.

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  1. These are some great ideas, Lynn! I love the idea of adding food coloring to water. I never would have thought about that.

    1. Hey Debra, Each time I speak I ask my assistant (whoever I bring with to help me) for some polishing points. That was an idea from my friend Kelly!

  2. My daughter (only 20) has written a talk for teens about the importance of Bible study and standing firm in your beliefs. She uses a large rock for a visual, and hands out stones to each attendee.

  3. This idea is a little expensive for large groups, but great for a bible study or retreat…
    Give each girl (or lady) a hand-held mirror and a wipe-off marker. Ask her to write words on her mirror describing what she sees. Then as you teach about who we are in Christ, have them wipe their mirrors clean. Hand out permanent markers and have them write down the key words they hear when you read scripture over them describing God’s great love for them and who HE says we are. The mirror is a great take-away reminder of seeing ourselves the way Jesus does…literally!

    For younger groups, having a child choose whether to drink from a cup that is dirty on the inside or one that is dirty on the outside is a great illustration of how God looks on heart.

    Using an egg, hammer, and large metal bowl, you can illustrate how Christ is the “propitation” (means wrath-bearer) for us. The egg is us, the hammer is God’s wrath, Jesus is the metal bowl. Hammer smashes first egg. Place metal bowl over second egg and the loud slamming of the hammer on the bowl while the egg is protected underneath makes quite an impression.

    Just a few ideas!

    1. Thanks so much for the ideas. The mirrors struck up excitement in my heart as I was just told today that a woman is arranging about 50 battered women to attend a weekend retreat, that I have agreed to lead. God’s purpose is to equip them with some new thinking skills (intellectual/emotional/social), including how God views them. I may very well bring mirrors and markers! Beautiful.

  4. This was so helpful. I had an idea recently that I thought I would put together into a talk for kids. Having visuals would be so helpful. One of our pastors at church puts a visual component in his messages and I remember those so much better than the sermons without. Thanks again for sharing these ideas and examples!