Tough Tasks: How To Present To Children

by drjim on June 14, 2011

Think That You Can Handle This Audience?

Think That You Can Handle This Audience?

Getting up in front of an audience to give a speech can be a nerve racking experience. If most of the members of that audience are under the age of 10, it can be downright terrifying. There’s no reason to fear the younger set, you just need to adjust both your speech and how you give it in order to be successful. I’m going to tell you how to do both…

It’s All About What They See

When we talk to an adult audience, we focus first on what we want to say and then if we have time, we’ll think about how we want to say it. When we’re addressing an audience that is made up of kids, this thinking needs to be flipped.

Kids at a young age are primarily visual creatures. If you stand in one place and talk at them, they’ll never pay attention. Talking without doing anything else for more than a couple of minutes will result in your losing your young audience.

Instead, you’re going to need to use visuals as a part of your speech. We’re not talking about just brining along one thing to hold up at some point during your speech. Rather, you are going to have to have to bring along a whole group of visuals. This also means that while you are rehearsing your speech, you are going to have to plan out what visuals you’ll be using and when you’ll use them.

In This Case, Speed Does Not Kill

As presenters, we try to make sure that we don’t overwhelm our audiences. One way that we do this is to present our information in a measured, moderate pace that we’re sure that they can all keep up with.

However, when you are presenting to a young audience, this is going to be the kiss of death. For kids, slow means boring and boring means that I’m going to be spending my time thinking about other things, not what you are saying.

As speakers, we need to pick up the pace when we are talking to kids. Nothing that we talk about can last for very long. When you are telling a story, you need to quickly get to the point and move on. Kids are not going to sit around waiting for you to build up to your big payoff.

A subtle but very important point is that all of this pick up the pace talk does not mean that you need to talk faster. As adults we talk at about 150 words per minute. However, studies have shown that our young audiences can only process about 124 words per minute. If you speak too quickly, your audience is not going to be able to understand what you are saying and they’ll drift off.

What All Of This Means For You

The good news is that it is possible to give a speech to kids and emerge with your life. However, you can’t give the same type of speech that you would give to an adult audience if you want to be successful.

An audience made up of little kids is fundamentally different from an adult audience. This means that you need to change not only what you say, but also how you say it. Kids tune in and pay more attention if you can make your speech more visual – use props and move around more. They will never permit you to deliver a slow speech – you need to keep things moving quickly.

Although speaking to a young audience may seem like a risky thing to do (so much can go wrong), it’s well worth the effort. Speakers who can develop the skills to do this well are able to improve their overall speaking ability and this shows every time they give a speech…

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: How long do you think your speech should last if your audience is very young?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Being asked to give a speech is a great honor. Being asked to give a speech that is going to deliver bad news to part or all of business is not such an honor. However, in order to be a truly good speaker, this is exactly the type of speech that you need to be able to step up and give. The keys are knowing how to organize this type of speech and what not to say…

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