I get asked this all the time. First off, it is important to note that college students in particular are very different than any other market. They are 18-22 years old. They aren’t “kids” but they aren’t fully adults either. What works in other audiences will likely fail on a collage campus. It takes a special presentation and a special skillset to rock a college crowd consistently. Fortunately, I have created a framework for you that you can use as a “design template” when crafting your college public speaking performance. It was developed from my 10+ years of speaking in universities, colleges, community colleges, and even youth events. If you’re looking for a surefire way to reach college students, this is it.
Consider our natural God-given gift. The word charismos means gift. Use your gift to elevate your platform to talk to the students. A gift can be something you have developed, like a skill that you have perfected, then use that skill during your talk. That will make you charismatic and really make your charisma shine. It doesn’t have to be deep. For example, I love comedy. I study it. I use a few one liners to relate to college students, get them laughing, and create a connection between the audience and me.
Your talk must be a solution to their problem. Focus on filling a void, meeting a need. You need to discover what college students are struggling with. If you don’t know, visit a local college and talk with students to hear first hand from the students what are some things they struggle with on a daily basis.
You have to show them (the students) that you are real. What battle wounds do you have to show that you not only can talk on the topic, but also have experienced similar struggles? College students can smell a fake a mile away. They want someone who is going to give them straight talk.
You must be very kinesthetic for college students. Always exude high energy. Remember that most college students’ attention spans are very short because they may have just sat through a three hour lecture or have been going to classes all day, studying or, taking exams. It has to be a very ACTIVE experience.
Craft your presentation in a manner in which you use both sides of the brain. The left side is for Learning and the right side is for Recreation. Give them a dose of both to satisfy all interest levels and attention spans. Legendary speaker Brian Tracy teaches something called “The Windshield Wiper Technique” in which you structure your presentation so it engages both sides of the brain, going back and forth, from left brain to right brain (logic and emotion). You tell a story, then you make a few points, and continue to alternate throughout your talk. Nido Qubein is also brilliant at this.
Give them something to do. Have some kind of activity pre-planned to keep the energy levels up. They get lectured all the time. Don’t be another lecturer. As it pertains to the activity, only do those that you already know are winners. Now isn’t the time to be guessing (especially if you’re new in your career). When done correctly, you will quickly build a name for yourself. Keep them engaged ALL the time.
Yes, my rule of thumb is I try to do a 2 for $20 or sometimes even 3 for $20. A better question to focus on is “what books do I NEED to sell”. If you don’t have the right book then you will not sell any books. If you have just a real general motivational book then there is a chance you may sell a few but you really have to zero in on the NEED and WANTS of your college audience.
Ex) They want to be the popular kid on campus, they want to become a better student, they want to save money, they want to be a better leader & they want to get a great job.
It all comes down to being able to tie your topic with their wants. During your talk, mention the ways that your book is going to help them and use real examples. You have to have the right stuff but most importantly you have to PITCH it the right way.
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