I’ve volunteered for DECA for the last four-plus years and this year I was asked to present at Washington Business Week. “Sure I can do this!” I thought. I can present to what is considered the hardest audience! I saw it as a challenge. I saw it as a way to test how good of a speaker am I really and am I really able to change to fit my audience?
Having had no prior experience with the organization and only going on a casual conversation that I had with one of the staff. Oh and let’s not forget that I have never presented to high school kids before…needless to say, I was a bit nervous and excited all in one!
I had prepared a general presentation that I figured I could tweak if needed once I got there that was based upon my conversation with the staff. I opted not to have a PowerPoint presentation just in case I needed to make changes to presentation at the last-minute. I didn’t want to be confined to something that may be irrelevant to my audience.
On presentation day, that turned out to be a really good decision! I got there early as I always do and found out that there were specific things that needed to be covered so the kids had the information they needed to do their projects—No Problem, I’ll just change my presentation!
My sister was with me and her jaw almost fell to the floor when she heard this and then watched me cross out almost half of what I had planned to speak about.
Many speakers or people in general get nervous or scared about situations like these. But I don’t, I excel at in-the-moment, impromptu speaking. For me, it’s easier than a planned presentation. But don’t get me wrong, there is value in both methods.
For my presentation, I just had my name and contact information on a slide. One of the girls in the program introduced me and then the entire audience of almost 200 kids did their welcome cheer for me!
This was awesome and I was blown away! I also felt bad that I didn’t have something like that prepared for them. So I asked if I could borrow that. Every time I pointed at them, would they do their cheer. They agreed and I began my presentation.
I had a blast! I had them sit in their groups so they could begin to work right then and there. There were three breakout sessions throughout my presentation and I put a heavy emphasis on “what you like vs. what your target market likes,” and “the importance of creating a flexible but memorable brand.”
By the end of the session I only had two kids fall asleep and some of the groups waited around after to ask some clarifying questions—All-in-all, I think it was a success and I will gladly present to high school kids any time!