Being asked to speak in front of an audience is an honor that some anticipate and others fear, especially when that group consists of teenagers. Not everyone is naturally adept at public speaking and if you have a touch of stage fright, the idea of speaking in front of a group of teens -- who’d probably rather be anywhere else -- might make you nervous. It is not uncommon to experience a little stage fright or nervousness prior to speaking. When speaking to a group of teens, you need to find a way to make your presentation interesting, relatable and a bit humorous if you want to keep their attention.
Make an outline of your presentation and write it, advises Nancy Darling, Ph.D., professor at Oberlin College in Ohio. It doesn’t matter who you are giving a presentation to, you need to have an outline and a speech prepared or risk forgetting what you want to say, stumbling over your words or not making any sense. An easy way to do this is to divide your presentation into three parts: the opening, the point and the final thought. Write the information you want to present in that order.
Engage your teen audience immediately with your speech, advises Pandora Scooter, member of Toastmasters International, an international organization designed to help people learn the art of public speaking. Ask a question, tell a funny story or use an anecdote that requires a response. For example, a personal anecdote or a funny story from recent news that ties into your topic will catch their attention better than hard, boring facts.
Be honest and direct, advises Scooter. Teens typically appreciate direct and honest conversation, especially with an adult. For example, if you are talking about a difficult experience such as alcoholism as part of your presentation, share the scary stuff. Don’t sugarcoat things or avoid talking about certain aspects such as the fact that teens who use alcohol are more likely to become the victims of sexual abuse; teens respect honesty and directness. Additionally, they have a pretty good radar when it comes to dishonesty, which could cause them to stop listening.
Let teens know how to get in touch with you after your presentation, advises The Accidental Communicator. Chances are slim that many teens are interested in getting in touch with you again, but they will appreciate the offer nevertheless. Furthermore, if your presentation touched even one teen, he may want to contact you for help in the topic area of your presentation or even a career goal.
Make eye contact and don’t forget to thank your audience when you are finished giving your presentation, advises Scooter.
Avoid talking about yourself too much in your presentation. According to The Accidental Communicator, teens do not want to hear about your accomplishments or life unless you’re famous. While it’s fine to tell them your name and where you work or why you are there, don’t bore your teens with a laundry list of your achievements, awards or even a rundown of your resume.