Advice for enterprising speakers
Engaging Younger Audiences
It’s no secret that the key to a spectacular presentation is a speaker’s ability to engage an audience. Young people, however, pose different chal- lenges than adult audiences.
They are your toughest critics, and
don’t hide behind nodding, note
taking or smiles. Their body language
expresses everything you need to know
to tailor every sentence you utter.
Here are some myth busters about
engaging young people:
Myth: You have to be young to
Fact: You don’t have to dress like a
gangster or talk like you’re one of
them. Be genuine and speak from the
heart and, instead of trying to fit in,
make the audience tune to your way of
thinking, your life and your story.
Myth: You need to be cool.
Fact: You’re trying to deliver your
message to young people, not get on
their good side. In many cases, your
audience will have an open mind. You
can make or break your first impression, but don’t stray from your message
or image because you think it will make
them more engaged.
Myth: Adults think young people
need to hear funny stories about
Fact: Young people want to hear stories
with morals, based on lessons that
adults have learned during their lives.
Young people may have a different view
of what’s funny, so something you think
is hilarious may not be to young people.
Age jokes are a no-no because young
people don’t always “get” them.
The worst speaker who came to my
high school told the student body that
life was “piss easy.” Apart from the
inappropriateness, it was easy for him
to say that because he owns properties
around the world. However, he did not
reveal that he worked hard to achieve
So, before you walk on stage to
present to a younger audience, think
back to your youth and ask: What did I
want to hear when I was that age? What
engaged me when I was young?
Myth: Textbook content is good.
Fact: Young people like to interact
with others or do an activity. When
you’re delivering a presentation, add
a couple of extra exercises to get them
to talk to each other or move around;
for example, ask them to turn to the
person to their left and share their
thoughts about what the speaker
Myth: You must be inspiring
Fact: Share the good with the bad.
Many speakers at my high school
painted a beautiful picture about their
lives, but they never described the hard
work that was necessary to achieve
their goals. Young people need to be
aware that life is not easy. Situations
will arise that will force them to deal
with barriers and conflicts.
Russian-born Eva-Maria is a 20-year-old family coach, international speaker, TV personality and author of the best-selling book, You Shut Up!
She lives in New Zealand and is on a full-on
mission to help improve 1 million adult-teen-ager relationships around the world. For more
information, go to www.eva-maria.co.nz.