Think of the most fearful or unmotivated kid you know.
Meet my target audience when I was a budding entrepreneur. At age 15, I started teaching kids to swim, and the experience was a powerful lesson in public speaking.
I ran a thriving swim lesson business and was blessed to coach hundreds of kids over the next few summers. Early each morning, I would splash into the often icy pool with a (I admit… sometimes forced) smile on my face as I encouraged groups of young kids to join me in the fun.
Teaching groups of rambunctious kids who had just downed sugary breakfast cereal was a task in and of itself. As an added challenge, many of these kids were terrified of water, which is why they were sent my way.
What was the key to my success?
Being excited, energetic, and playful helped me to distract kids from their phobia while they were making huge strides in their swimming.
I often caught parents with an amused look on their face as they watched me belt out ridiculous swimming skill songs or encourage their children to learn the fundamentals through comical games I created.
Those antics led to happy customers and a booming business that put me through college.
Teaching Takeaways from Tots
I've presented to thousands of kids both through swim lessons and various health workshops I have taught to youth. As a result, I have learned priceless lessons that have translated to my current work teaching corporate wellness workshops.
The main takeaway…
Kids don’t sugar coat their feedback on your presentation skills. If they are bored, they will look away, get upset, or literally fall asleep in front of you. If they are engaged and excited, you will see joy emanating from their little faces.
Have Fun with Your Face
Have you ever witnessed a serious individual break character and ham it up in front of an infant, fishing for one of those charming baby smiles or laughs?
Kids tune into theatrical adults who modulate their voice, use dramatic body gestures, and make entertaining facial expressions.
Adults enjoy being engaged and excited as well.
Therefore, be verbally and visually expressive when you present. Your workshop participants will come away with not only great information but also a smile.
As an added perk, engaging workshops are talked about and that buzz leads to more business.
Get Honest Feedback
So, how do you practice being a dynamic presenter who is sure to catch the audience’s attention?
If you want to get an accurate read on how interesting or lackluster your presentation skills are in order to improve your skills, here is my suggestion.
“Hire” kid coaches. Present to them.
There are hundreds of young coaches who critique free of charge. Find them at libraries, pre-schools, elementary schools, mom & toddler groups, sports teams, or your neighborhood.
You have 1 month to complete the following fun challenge.
Gather some young kids (4-7 years old) and give them a 10+ minute workshop on healthy eating (catered to their age). Observe their reactions.
Provided you have parental consent, set up a tripod and record their visual feedback so that you can analyze it later.
Review the Tapes
What caused the kids to engage or disengage? Were they able to listen for 10 minutes straight or did they benefit from some workshop activities and other interaction?
Let me know how your kid presentation goes and what you learned from the experience!
Then, take those lessons and apply them to your adult workshops. Remember, kids aren’t the only ones who enjoy learning that is masked in fun!