Presenting to Little Monsters

So you think you've aced public speaking. You've done presentations in a packed  ampitheater. You've done an impressive song and dance to big wigs of multinational companies.

Guess what, neither of those cut it.
Not until you've done the dreaded... school presentation.

About a couple of months ago, I was invited to do a Career Talk for kids. And when I say 'kids', I don't mean high school kids. I mean 10 to 12-year old kids who haven't even  thought of what they want to be when they grow up... on a logical level.

Let me tell you that I have never been more gripped with audience anxiety than I was that day. This was a totally different playing field, with a new bunch of people at the bleachers. This was not my usual stress-filled comfort zone.

So how did I manage to finish my presentation unscathed? These tips:

1. BE CASUAL. The last thing these kids want is to listen to another 'teacher'. When you take the stage, you want to have that air of authority without being 'Blech!'. Rework your tonality, your choice of words. Speak their language and aim to be approachable. Be that cool adult kids want to hang out with. Remember, you're there to inspire, not to teach.

2. BE INVOLVING. These kids didn't go to the school auditorium by their free will. Therefore, you have to make it worth their while. It will do you a world of good if you do some research on what kids are into these days and reference to that while throwing a joke, pulling someone onstage for a demo, or setting up a topic-related mini game. If you've made them laugh a few times, you're a pro.

3. BE BRIEF. Don't talk too much. Prepare pictures, infographics, and videos that will help tell the story of what you do. If you're going to keep droning, you will expect a lot of snoozing. When you're talking to an audience who's latched onto YouTube, Snapchat, and Facebook, you'll just have to be as dynamic.

4. BE OPEN. Kids don't beat around the bush. If they know you're talking bullshit, they're gonna call you out on it. They'll ask the most left-field questions that will leave you dumbfounded. They'll throw an opinion that can leave you speechless. But, hey, you have to roll with the punches. Listen to them. Answer them without talking down to them. Be thankful that you've got their attention.

5. BE MEMORABLE. You can do that by botching up your presentation. Or... you can leave each kid a little token after your talk. Say, candy bars with surprise presentation quotes printed on the wrappers. If you're cheap, you can just end your presentation with a thought-provoking line like, "Every time you see an ad on TV or online, ask yourself --can I do better than this?"

I'll let you know that armed with these tips, my presentation was a roaring success. Okay, 'roaring' is a big word. But I did awesome. The kids said so. One of the kids even gave me a handwritten letter saying how 'dope' I was. Ha!

Thank goodness for that, too. Otherwise, I would've resorted to a magic trick. Geez.


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