Presenting to Teens about something they don't care about.

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Presenting to Teens about something they don't care about.

Postby MysteryBall » Tue Jul 13, 2010 9:49 pm UTC

With no obvious forum to put something regarding presentation skills and presentations in general in, I guess General is the most appropriate place.

Okay, here's one for you guys, next week I've been tasked with doing a presentation to my old school, well, part of it. The audience is a count of about 100 14/15 year olds on each of the two days, for as much time as I want up to about 50 minutes. All fine and dandy, except when the presentation I'll be doing to them is probably going to be quite uninteresting to them. Background info, they just did a 2 month project on Business Enterprise in their ICT lessons, they had to come up with a new product, research, develop, etc, and come up with something presentable, they even had to go into the business side of things and work out investments they want, turnover, costs, etc. I came back in to school to judge the finals of this project, and afterwards my old teacher, who is actually the head of ICT and Business Studies as well, tasked me with creating my own presentation if I wish to on my own, already running business, to as he put it "show them how it's done in the real world". Of course I took up this challenge since I'm usually quite a fan of public speaking on a topic I'm heavily interested in.

My business in question is Web Design and Systems Services (at least, that's what my business card says), which really isn't the most interesting topic for these guys. I've tried to keep it interesting, my intro is quite an interesting one, based on Johnny Long's intro but more personal to me. After that, I start going on to briefly run over what the business does, and our turnover, etc, and impress them with nice big numbers. Now I'm stuck for ideas, I mean, I could start going into a waffle about some great businessman who started from nothing and gained everything (e.g. Bill Gates) but I really can't see them enjoying that for long. If I had enough time I could have started going on about New User Interface and how the way we interact with things is changing, but until I actually have an iPhone 4 and I build my multi-touch table I can't really dabble with that (saving that presentation for next year, since I'll be bringing that table back to the school, I have this whole idea in the back of my head involving audience interaction and such). On a side note, gotta make sure I get iDemo on an iPhone for that, I hear it's pretty good over USB, so I could totally use it in that second presentation next year.

So, any pointers, suggestions, etc, about what I could do for these guys that may make my presentation a bit more interesting? Like I said I have up to 50 minutes, so I can go for 5, 20, or even the full 50 minutes. Though God help me if I manage that. And yeah, I don't have to stay directly on the topic of my business, I can go into other areas such as the aforementioned stuff about NUI, constantly evolving technology, etc.

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Re: Presenting to Teens about something they don't care abou

Postby Patashu » Wed Jul 14, 2010 3:13 am UTC

Maybe relate to things that they, personally, would be using? Like if you know anything about how facebook works on the backend, you could talk about how it works to serve millions of people all day and so on.

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Re: Presenting to Teens about something they don't care abou

Postby MysteryBall » Wed Jul 14, 2010 2:34 pm UTC

Sounds like it could work. I'm sure they'll be interested in me talking about Facebook and such.

I actually just messed with it this morning, and I've added a nice little section on 'hacking' in a loose form, little bit on the Jedi Wave and such, just for kicks.

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Re: Presenting to Teens about something they don't care abou

Postby Bakemaster » Thu Jul 15, 2010 6:41 pm UTC

A good way to connect with an audience to convince them that they actually do care about your topic can be to identify a problem that might affect them, or which they might have experienced. Tell a story about a real victim of the problem. It doesn't have to be one of your audience who's the victim in your story, but for best effect it needs to be a real person who really was affected by the problem (i.e., you can present a hypothetical and make up a scenario, but people tend to find that inherently unbelievable because you had to make it up).

In the course of your presentation, you use the story about your victim as the initial connection. People like to watch car crashes, to hear about gross diseases, to relate dramatic stories about what happened to who; so you grab them with the story about what happened to the victim. Once you've connected with your audience and in this way shown them that you're talking about something that's either personally relevant to them or fascinating in a car wreck fashion, then you move on to describe the problem, and after that you present the solution.

These are the first three of five steps of Monroe's Motivated Sequence, a tool developed from the study of how people become convinced of things, used widely in public speaking. MMS is commonly used in television commercials in a very compact form. The final two steps are visualization, where you show your audience EITHER a better world that would arise from implementing your solution, OR the significant consequences that would arise from not implementing your solution; and the call to action, where you channel the involvement, attention and emotion you've gathered in your audience to get them to take action. Ideally, you get them to take action as part of your presentation; for instance, by passing around a petition for them to sign. People who participate and take action toward a cause as part of their introduction to that cause are incredibly more likely to remember the issue and take further independent action afterward.

You can see a one-minute example of MMS in action in this commercial from a past super bowl. Try to identify the five steps - connection, problem, solution, visualization, call to action. Note too that what the commercial's trying to motivate you to do (buy their beer) and the sequence actually being presented (horse makes the team) are completely separate; the power of MMS to grab the audience's attention and keep them engaged is what's most important.
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Re: Presenting to Teens about something they don't care abou

Postby MysteryBall » Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:38 pm UTC

Bakemaster wrote:wall o' text


Some fantastic pointers there, but, uh, what sort of problems could I bring up that affect them? I mean, I'm essentially talking about what I do for a living and stuff...?

Also, for a title, I was thinking '<me> on "Web 3.0 or: how I learned to stop worrying and took over the internet."? Obviously I haven't taken over the net, but it's kinda catchy. And I know I won't be talking about Web 3.0, not much anyways, but it all relates.

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Re: Presenting to Teens about something they don't care abou

Postby hintss » Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:47 pm UTC

according to the geekdad book, in the section on making LED fireflies (LED throwies without the magnet), he says that presentation is key in his house. if you go in excited, the kids won't pay and attention. if you toss a lit LED firefly on the table casually, put down the bag of materials, and tell them to stay out of the bag, then proceed to go to the restroom, they'll have 10 glowing by the time you get back...

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Re: Presenting to Teens about something they don't care abou

Postby Bakemaster » Thu Jul 15, 2010 9:53 pm UTC

Cue wrote:Some fantastic pointers there, but, uh, what sort of problems could I bring up that affect them? I mean, I'm essentially talking about what I do for a living and stuff...?

If you want to keep your audience's attention, you have to position your speech so it's about them, not about you. That means changing, "This is what I do for a living," to, "This is what my company can do for you." Think about: How does your target audience use the web? How are they affected by design choices on websites they visit? How could your business improve their experience, even in a small way?

If your business isn't solving some sort of problem, then you don't really have a business. Even retailers who do nothing but peddle useless crap know how to position themselves in such a way that their useless crap is solving their customer's problem, whether it be boredom, lack of a gift for a nephew, etc. What are some past projects you've worked on or been associated with? Is there any way you can use those projects either to show a benefit you provided that your audience would also like, OR to draw an analogy between the problem you solved for someone else and another problem that your audience has, which you can solve using similar methods?

Once you know what it is you're trying to show your audience you can do for them, you can select examples and tell stories that are engaging because you don't need to prepare a speech to tell them. They're in your memory. You can talk comfortably and freely about that time you did this or that. People like being talked to conversationally. They like hearing stories. This lets you pull together a fifteen-minute presentation from only five minutes of traditionally prepared speech bits.

One thing you don't want to do is tell them at the start how great your business is. You can throw in a statistic or two for the sake of establishing credibility, but you want to pull out the numbers about your sales and successes later on in the presentation, after you've connected with your audience, described the problem, and shown them how you can solve it. Because what you're doing when you say that your business has a five-star rating on yelp, or won a customer service award, or whatever, is supporting your claim that whatever you do will actually solve the problem. And solvency is part of the solution step. If you haven't already connected with your audience and shown them they can benefit, they won't care about your ability to solve a problem because both you and the problem will be nebulous to them.

You mentioned user interfaces. That's a great place to bring up some examples of problems that affect a teenaged audience. Look around for some popular web sites (they don't have to be facebook, but they could be) that your audience probably uses. Try to find anything about their user interface that is frustrating, inefficient, or could be improved. You can connect to your audience by saying, "I use Facebook all the time (or other site). You guys use Facebook, right?" Your audience will be thinking, hey, I like Facebook. That's all you need to do to connect them on a personal level to your speech, is draw a connection between you and them with some shared experience or quality. Then, you show them something about Facebook you find frustrating with the user interface. They don't have to have previously found it frustrating; you just have to show them how you can make it better. You can kind of mix and match the problem/solution step here, by presenting a set of problem-solution, problem-solution, problem-solution. Show them all the stuff you can do to Facebook (or some other site that spends less money on its UI, and probably has more problems - though even a huge site like Facebook will get shit wrong) to fix problems relating to efficiency, facility of use, ease of navigation, entertainment, anything.
Cue wrote:Also, for a title, I was thinking '<me> on "Web 3.0 or: how I learned to stop worrying and took over the internet."? Obviously I haven't taken over the net, but it's kinda catchy. And I know I won't be talking about Web 3.0, not much anyways, but it all relates.

Titles for presentations or speeches are overrated. This isn't a book report; you're not going to walk on stage and say, "My name is Joey and this is my presentation on The Wind in The Willows." Unless you're doing the powerpoint thing, which honestly doesn't do much for teenagers unless you're really good at it and using more images than text, there's no reason to ever say the title to your audience. Just jump right in and grab their attention. Shocking statistics are good for this, or interesting quotes, or surprising statements like, "Hi, I'm Adam and I can fly." That's how someone might start a presentation about this sort of business. People will go, oh man, that's crazy! He can't fly. Why is he saying he can fly? What's the deal with this? Their attention is assured. The actual title of your speech is only really necessary for paperwork and programs. (And even with powerpoint, you can start out with an image rather than a title page.)

If there's a place for you to put something like a title or a thesis, it's right at the end of your introduction. You can do what's called a content preview. In your content preview, you basically tell your audience what you're going to talk about by identifying each of your main points, individually if possible, but generally if you have five or more main points you might condense them somehow for your preview. If your speech is Intro, Body, Conclusion (as speeches generally are), the purpose of these three sections respectively is this:
Intro - Tell them what you're going to tell them.
Body - Tell them.
Conclusion - Tell them what you told them.
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Re: Presenting to Teens about something they don't care abou

Postby MysteryBall » Thu Jul 15, 2010 10:40 pm UTC

Bakemaster wrote:If you want to keep your audience's attention, you have to position your speech so it's about them, not about you. That means changing, "This is what I do for a living," to, "This is what my company can do for you." Think about: How does your target audience use the web? How are they affected by design choices on websites they visit? How could your business improve their experience, even in a small way?


This could be an interesting one, I mean, by no means are these people my actual customers, their parents maybe, but not them. I guess stuff like "Hey, you see this site? Yeah, horrible to use isn't it? Yeah. Shall we make it better?" or something along those lines.

Bakemaster wrote:Once you know what it is you're trying to show your audience you can do for them, you can select examples and tell stories that are engaging because you don't need to prepare a speech to tell them. They're in your memory. You can talk comfortably and freely about that time you did this or that. People like being talked to conversationally. They like hearing stories. This lets you pull together a fifteen-minute presentation from only five minutes of traditionally prepared speech bits.


I'm not sure I could actually put a story to anything, really, other than the whole "Hey guys, don't give up!" speech which everyone is so sick of by now. I mean, there's not really any stories I can relate to them, it's not like a Web Design business has that many stories... =P

Bakemaster wrote:You mentioned user interfaces. That's a great place to bring up some examples of problems that affect a teenaged audience. Look around for some popular web sites (they don't have to be facebook, but they could be) that your audience probably uses. Try to find anything about their user interface that is frustrating, inefficient, or could be improved. You can connect to your audience by saying, "I use Facebook all the time (or other site). You guys use Facebook, right?" Your audience will be thinking, hey, I like Facebook. That's all you need to do to connect them on a personal level to your speech, is draw a connection between you and them with some shared experience or quality. Then, you show them something about Facebook you find frustrating with the user interface. They don't have to have previously found it frustrating; you just have to show them how you can make it better. You can kind of mix and match the problem/solution step here, by presenting a set of problem-solution, problem-solution, problem-solution. Show them all the stuff you can do to Facebook (or some other site that spends less money on its UI, and probably has more problems - though even a huge site like Facebook will get shit wrong) to fix problems relating to efficiency, facility of use, ease of navigation, entertainment, anything.


I was more talking about physical interfaces like touch screens and such, but hey, this works too, I know for a fact that there are quite a few things people hate about Facebook and the like. :)

Bakemaster wrote:Titles for presentations or speeches are overrated. This isn't a book report; you're not going to walk on stage and say, "My name is Joey and this is my presentation on The Wind in The Willows." Unless you're doing the powerpoint thing, which honestly doesn't do much for teenagers unless you're really good at it and using more images than text


Truth be told, I haven't stuck to bullet point 'standards' for powerpoints in a long time, a lot of the slides I have down only have a few words, my presentations has a lot of slides but very few of them stay on screen for a long time.

My intro is actually an intro to me more than the presentation, just a brief, 60 second or less summary of my shenanigans, though I do touch on some of the stuff I mentioned in the intro later on. After all, the objective was "what I do" more than "what can my company do for you?" but yeah, I see where you're coming from, they will get very bored with "Me me me" very quickly. I'll have to rack my brains a bit and see if I can think of anything interesting to tell them that will relate to them. Thanks for the wall o' text, I must say, very helpful indeed.

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Re: Presenting to Teens about something they don't care abou

Postby Aetius » Thu Jul 15, 2010 10:55 pm UTC

Kids are dumb and impressionable. The trick is not to get them interested in what you're talking about, but to get them interested in you. If they think you're someone worth following, they'll listen to anything you have to say and lap it up, no matter how banal it is. Concentrate on selling yourself and your topic will take care of itself.

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Re: Presenting to Teens about something they don't care abou

Postby Bakemaster » Thu Jul 15, 2010 11:48 pm UTC

Cue wrote:Truth be told, I haven't stuck to bullet point 'standards' for powerpoints in a long time, a lot of the slides I have down only have a few words, my presentations has a lot of slides but very few of them stay on screen for a long time.

Which is exactly the way slides should be used. One of the worst things is when someone has a slide that has so much text on it, everyone starts reading the slide and ignoring what's being said; or when a slide is really funny or interesting, but it just stays up there after the point is made and everyone's still focused on the slide.
Aetius wrote:Kids are dumb

If there's one thing teenagers are really fucking good at, it's sniffing out this kind of attitude in an adult, and responding in kind.
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Re: Presenting to Teens about something they don't care abou

Postby Vapour » Fri Jul 16, 2010 10:00 am UTC

Bakemaster wrote:
Aetius wrote:Kids are dumb

If there's one thing teenagers are really fucking good at, it's sniffing out this kind of attitude in an adult, and responding in kind.



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Re: Presenting to Teens about something they don't care abou

Postby hintss » Fri Jul 16, 2010 10:30 am UTC

not me...

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Re: Presenting to Teens about something they don't care abou

Postby MysteryBall » Fri Jul 16, 2010 10:45 am UTC

Vapour wrote:Trufax. Don't underestimate the modern teenager.
They're good at playing that game.


This is so incredibly true, and I actually hate it with a passion when a random adult doing a presentation thinks everyone they're talking to is 5 years old mentally.

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Re: Presenting to Teens about something they don't care abou

Postby Vapour » Fri Jul 16, 2010 12:03 pm UTC

A perfect example is the teachers assistant.
A few years ago, when I was at highschool, we'd go through assistants like it was going out of fashion. We weren't a "bad" class, just good at the game we played.


The best thing you can do is keep it interesting and relevant to their interests.

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Re: Presenting to Teens about something they don't care abou

Postby emceng » Fri Jul 16, 2010 5:08 pm UTC

Bring a paintball gun. Randomly shoot anyone not paying attention - or just randomly shoot at your audience.
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Re: Presenting to Teens about something they don't care abou

Postby Aetius » Fri Jul 16, 2010 7:49 pm UTC

Part of teenage stupidity is not realizing how stupid you are at the time. It's not a bad thing, it's just part of growing up, everyone realizes it eventually. I'm eagerly looking forward to the collective forehead smack that is "Wow... Twilight was a terrible book." My point isn't that teenagers lack cognitive abilities, you don't have to "dumb down" your presentation to them, but rather that they are very easily led by someone they perceive as their superior in some way.

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Re: Presenting to Teens about something they don't care abou

Postby OverBored » Fri Jul 16, 2010 11:11 pm UTC

For the record, a good chunk of teenagers are already aware of just how awful Twilight is. Admittedly mostly males, but I know some sensible females.

As a teenager who has been to a few lectures, some on subjects I had very little interest in, I think that you will need to find an aspect of your work which appeals to them. Fortunately for you, websites are interesting and important.

This is a generation of youths who understand just how revolutionary the technology they are working with is. Show them websites, modern and archaic. Explain what you do, and where you think things are going next. Presumably there is some new idea coming through that everyone in the industry is trying to make work properly. If there is one group which uses the internet more than any other, it is your demographic, use that!

Also, since you want to talk about yourself, don't be afraid to make fun of yourself. You need people to like you, and teenagers really hate arrogant, stuck-up adults.

Edit: Also, probably the best talk I've ever seen (not live I'm afraid) was Dave Gorman's googlewhack adventure. It was entertaining because the slide-show was all images, and moved very quickly. You don't have comparable source material to work with, but you can still make sure that the presentation enhances what you say, rather than distracting the audience.
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Re: Presenting to Teens about something they don't care abou

Postby beyondweird » Sat Jul 17, 2010 6:42 pm UTC

Aetius wrote:My point isn't that teenagers lack cognitive abilities, you don't have to "dumb down" your presentation to them, but rather that they are very easily led by someone they perceive as their superior in some way.


Oh no no no! This is the WORST possible route - if they catch on that you're doing the whole 'superior' thing then they will just be awkward and not pay any attention at all/mess about. I found that the best presentations/lectures I ever saw were the ones that treated the audience as equals, and made it feel as though you were listening. So perhaps you could try to find out at the start of the presentation what areas interest them most, and focus on those areas?
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Re: Presenting to Teens about something they don't care abou

Postby cypherspace » Sat Jul 17, 2010 7:20 pm UTC

My tips:

If you're presenting something they don't care about, they won't care about it. Find something they care about and connect it to your presentation. Keep connecting things they care about to what you are talking about. Like Bakemaster said, the presentation is not about you - it's about how what you do connects to what they do.

In your case, you could easily go on about user interfaces for a good long time with it being very, very relevant. Who uses a mobile phone? Or a Wii? Or have they heard about the new Kinect or Move? What about their laptop, their television, different websites? You can talk about all the different ways these have changed over the years, and then talk about how you made your business doing this. But make sure it's not just talking.

Use pictures, movies and anything properly interactive. Mix it up. Spend five minutes max, talking and then give them an activity or something else to pay attention to. Keep slides short and simple. Don't go into detail. I wouldn't go for the full 50 minutes if I were you, 20 or 30 is probably enough.

And be passionate about it. Engage your audience. Ask them questions. You'll be fine.
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Re: Presenting to Teens about something they don't care abou

Postby MysteryBall » Tue Jul 20, 2010 10:33 am UTC

Day 1.

That went remarkably well, they gave a fairly good response, I responded well to questions and improvised things based on the scenario and what was said. Handed out all but one of my business cards and may well have some business on the way, who knows? And yeah, they were impressed by my 2010 turnover forecast. :3

Now to do it again tomorrow.

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Re: Presenting to Teens about something they don't care abou

Postby saxmaniac1987 » Fri Jul 23, 2010 5:54 pm UTC

Not sure if it's too late--integrate movement into the talk. The simple act of getting up and then sitting back down is enough to reengage the brain. For example, if you give a statistic, have everyone stand up, and then certain groups sit back down, etc. Those kinds of movements might help...
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