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speaking to a high school class

The Audience has the Only Vote That Counts

A friend asked me to speak with her high school class about my career and my book. I have done this a few times before and they can be tricky, like the time a student folded her arms on her desk, put her head down and slept for the rest of the class. I didn’t get her vote.

I asked our teenage sons for advice. Sam recommended using quick games as metaphors of my experiences. Makes sense. When I said I was planning to engage the group in discussions, he said, “They won’t say anything unless you reward them, so bring candy.” Done. Charlie counselled, “Don’t deal with kids who aren’t paying attention or acting up because you will just dig yourself a bigger grave.” As with adults. He also said “Don’t talk in the voice you are talking to me in now: it’s too optimistic and has to be grounded in reality.” I thought it was both.  

This is what I have learned:
Identify how my path is relevant to the students
Let them experience my experiences 
The less I talk the more fun they will have
Motivate them to participate
Follow their interests
Make it enjoyable

Most principles hold true for my book:
Identify how my experiences are relevant to the reader
Let them experience my experiences (provide the who, what, why, where, when and how)
Motivate the reader to apply my advice to their situation
Make it easy for them to follow their interests
Make it enjoyable

I must do everything in my power to get people’s votes – one vote at a time.


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