Guest Speaker's Speech to Children's Group or Club
If you’ve been asked to speak to a children’s group, then the good news is that you’ve been given one of the most interested audiences in the world – and at their age there’s just so much to discover about the world.
Fortunately, for all the benefits of the search engines and the internet, nothing is going to replace listening to a really fascinating talk, face to face. Cast your mind back to your own childhood – I’ll bet you recall one or two excellent speakers who really stuck in your mind – but I’ll also bet you can remember the bad ones too!
Speaking to kids is a great opportunity – but there are potential pitfalls to avoid and it does call for a different approach from most other kinds of speech. It’s not just a question of scattering a few references to Harry Potter and iPods randomly through your talk and then proceeding to give the same style of presentation that you might in a business meeting. It won’t work and you won’t fool the kids for a minute.
Read through the following template, it’ll give you some ideas and a few examples of how it can work in practice, and by the time you’ve finished, you’ll be all set to be a memorable speaker – for all the right reasons!
1. Getting Off To A Good StartOne of the biggest stumbling blocks with speaking to youngsters is grabbing their attention. They have the most inquiring minds in the universe, but they don’t have an unlimited supply of patience – so whatever you do, don’t bore them. Once you lose a young audience, you’re very unlikely to get them back – so plan to get them interested from the start.
Of course, if you’re 20 years old and ideally plan on turning up in torn jeans with a skateboard under your arm you’ll probably do that instantly, but for the rest of us “oldies” (and remember, when you were a kid, you too thought that anyone over 30 was really, really old) we’re going to have to work at it.
- Your opening sentence needs to grab their interest instantly; make a bold statement – or pose an intriguing question; it’ll keep them wondering how you’re going to answer it
- Use language and a structure that is appropriate to the age of the children – but don’t “talk down” to them or try to sound like their teacher (however good he or she is!)
- Don’t fidget; kids spot it in a moment and they’ll pay more attention to what you’re doing than what you’re saying (how many of your old teachers’ odd habits can you still mimic, even now?)
- Above all else make it interesting!
Example: I don’t like vegetables! I don’t, I don’t, I don’t! That’s what I used to tell my mum when she wanted me to eat up all my greens – and I wouldn’t eat them, no matter how hard she tried. I think I must have been a really horrible child, when I was your age – and that was a very, very long time ago. But then one day something happened that changed all that and made me realise what I’d been missing. I’d like to tell you that story today.
2. Developing Your ThemeWhatever the topic of your speech, it’s particularly important when addressing young people to develop a good narrative and make sure there’s a proper and very clear beginning, middle and end to the story.
- Don’t labour any point for too long; keep the momentum up and things moving along
- Your speech is a journey – so include your “passengers” and make them feel a part of the ride
- Make good eye contact with the group, it’s reassuring and keeps them listening
3.Drawing To A CloseEvery good speaker needs to leave his audience satisfied, but at the same time, wanting more. A good ending to your talk will cement your memory as one of the “greats” of their childhood.
- If you began with a question, make sure you have answered it
- Pull everything together and make your ending very clear
- Thank everyone
Well done – they’ll certainly remember you. Now take a deep breath, have a quick drink of water and prepare yourself for the inevitable questions; if you’ve done your job properly, you’re going to be answering plenty of them!