Casting a reality check on real-world conundrums
Bridging the Generation Gap
It depends on the
subject. When I train lenders
in their twenties and thirties,
they listen to me because of
my very deep knowledge of
something they really need to
know, because I am funny (and
bring Legos), because this is
not my first recession, and
because I am an adventurer
and they secretly hope they’ll
be as adventurous as I am
when they are my age.
I just heard a speaker talk,
and he lost a lot of credibility
when he said ‘I remember
when....’ and ‘New technology
won’t replace the bottom-line
pencil.’ While he didn’t‘look’ old at
the beginning of his session, he
looked really old to several of us
at the end. I started to wonder:
Do our words add years to people’s
perception of our age?
Your audience is a different generation.
You’re an expert in your field, but you
feel you are “too old to understand” or
“wet behind the ears” from the time you
show up to even before making your
presentation. What would you do?
—Pegine, MS W, CSP
Ne w York, N. Y.
—Linda Keith, CPA, CSP
I am 30 and speak to an
industry that has an average age
of 56. Beyond your credentials,
laughter is the best medicine to
bring any audience to attention.
I won’t move forward with an
audience until I have gotten
past the stage where everyone
is checking me out to see if I am
credible and has moved into the
stage where they are sitting on
the edge of their seats rooting
for me to do well.
For those who were younger and thought I didn’t ‘get it,’ I
shared a story of how I had to terminate an employee who was 62
when I was 21. For those who are older, I share a story about having
indirect responsibility for the training of more than 5,000 call center
reps and some of the challenges that I faced. Audiences want to
find out for themselves that you ‘get it’ and stories convey that
without your having to broadcast your credentials.
When I get the feeling that
I’m not as informed as I should
be about the audience, I start
asking questions. If they are
telling me that I don’t understand
them, I validate that I heard them.
Then I ask them to help me
understand. I listen to them. In
my presentation, I mention what
I learned and how it relates to my
advice to them.
—Monica Wofford, MBA, CSP
It’s not the years; it’s
the mileage. Show them
your odometer in the first 60
St. Louis, Mo.
What Would You Do? is a regular column
that presents a real-life dilemma faced
by professional speakers. NSA members
are encouraged to submit a dilemma
for possible discussion in this column.
Please submit dilemmas to email@example.com. NSA reserves the right to
edit submissions for length and style. All
dilemmas will be anonymously attributed. Opinions expressed are those of
the individual respondents, not NSA.
I am a young speaker ( 30) and have been speaking for
several years to primarily older audiences. I have some great
credentials, which is part of my introduction, but for speakers to
connect to any audience, they need to find a balance between
credibility and relatability. Relatability comes from conversational
speaking and using relatable characters in your stories.
Credibility comes from your credentials, but more so from your
posturing and content. In this business, you need to know your
stuff and be able to communicate it.