Public Speaking for Teens

The Secret to Persuasive Fundraising Presentations


Persuasion is an art. When you're making a presentation pitch for funding or donations, the landscape can become competitive. When I was on the board for New York Center for Interpersonal Development, a non-profit, we made a lot of presentations to solicit donations. In typical fashion, these presentations involved showing the history of the organization, the mission, a video presentation, and highlighting the non-profit's results. The executive committee and board members would speak on behalf of the organization and would try to persuade potential donors to support their cause.

At one point, we discovered the most potent, powerful means of persuasive presentations. No matter how eloquent we thought we were, we were not as successful as the time we gave the floor to a couple of teenagers who spoke about their experience. Instantly, people started reaching into their pockets. Our mantra became, "Shut up and let the kids speak."

JDRF, a non-profit dedicated to curing Type I Diabetes, has realized this powerful technique. Recently, I found this video of a 13 year old boy who will represent Pennsylvania at the 2013 Children's Congress. Take a look, and see for yourself why kids are the most persuasive presenters.

Teen Confidence Crisis Averted with Confidence Class

From what I've read, there tends to be a decline in female confidence around the early teen-age years. This training gave them real world skills and a platform to present themselves powerfully. Public speaking is a skill that will benefit them for a life time.

Confidence Class for Teens: Focus on Image

Public speaking is taught too late, if at all. Confidence results from a good self image and from developing skills. Good public speaking skills are paving the way to a confident self image for these girls.

The Five Letter Word that Kills Telemarketing Presentations Every Time

This morning the phone rang. It was a recorded message. It's rare that I listen to one of these recordings.  My knee jerk response is to hangup. But there was a reason I kept listening. The offer was something I wanted. And the sales presentation was surprisingly excellent. The recording had a strong, clear, energetic voiceover and the brief message got to the point quickly. The ending had a strong call to action and a sense of urgency. You could press 1 and speak to a representative or you could press 2 to disconnect and give your competitor the opportunity for a one person per industry opportunity. Wow! I wanted to know more. I called and spoke to an outgoing and knowledgeable telemarketer. He answered my questions. He showed me the site online with an example of a customer's site. The price wasn't out of reach.  All I had to do was give my credit card over the phone and I would be assigned a representative who would get me started. The offer sounded exciting and something that would help me grow my business. He asked for my credit card and I said no.

And there was one major reason I didn't do it. One little five letter word stopped me cold. That word is TRUST. I didn't know the person on the other end and couldn't be sure if this was a legitimate company or a telephone scam. If there had been a television or radio infomercial with an 800 number there would've been a little more legitimacy. But an unsolicited call will always raise doubts no matter how well the caller speaks or how polished the presentation.

In today's market, trust is at an all time low. Audiences have a prove-it-to-me attitude. Not only are they slow to part with their money; the lack of trust is a symptom of fear. Speaking continues to be the new competitive weapon. But use it wisely. Build a relationship with your audience. Develop a know-like-trust process through social media, articles, blogging,  youtube, and third party endorsements.  So that when you call or even speak before a live audience there will be a spark of recognition and the beginning of trust.

Confident Public Speaking Starts Too Late

After 20 years consulting in corporate America I've come to this conclusion. We wait too long to build confident leaders.  Important leadership skills such as public speaking and confident communication must begin much earlier. That's why I started a Confidence Class for middle school girls in my community. In 2006 a mother called me. I don't know how she got my name. She explained that her daughter got nervous standing up and speaking in her 7th grade class. She wanted me to teach her to be confident. Although I coach business leaders to project executive presence, she was so persistent that I caved in. I told her if she could get 10 girls together I would teach a class on the weekend. To my surprise, she rounded up 10 lovely middle school girls from the same class and we had our first meeting in her house.

I discovered that I really enjoyed working with them and it brought back memories of my speech pathology days in the New York City schools. After learning skills of confident public speaking, her daughter gave a reading in her church before 100 people. Another girl, gave the acceptance speech for her grandfather at his legal society dinner of 800 attorneys. She received a standing ovation. It seemed the success of the classroom had spilled over into their every day lives.

And now here I am again, doing my third confident public speaking class for middle school girls. Three daughters in one family have now attended my class to become confident public speakers. The second sister went on to debate on a National level. Her mother told me that the Confidence class in public speaking served as the foundation for her to go on to join the debate team.

In each one hour session, the girls learn the same skills I teach adults in companies, learn to give each other balanced feedback, and watch themselves on videotape. What would happen if young students learned these skills when they were young? There would be fewer bad presentations. They would be better leaders. And maybe more women could chip away at the glass ceiling.

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