Are You More Persuasive Than a 5th Grader?

I recently attended a TEDx conference, delivered by a class of 5th graders.

Each student presented an impassioned speech on topics such as Growth vs. Fixed Mindset, Righteous Among the Nations, Upstanders vs. Bystanders and Genocide.

Besides displaying more confidence and presence than most adults, I was amazed how the students embodied the techniques entrepreneur/author/speaker Seth Godin preaches in his 40 minute Presenting to Persuade lecture. 

No text was allowed on slides. Only interesting images. What an impact!

Godin says we’ve forgotten the purpose of presentations — to change and engage.

  • Ask yourself what the audience should think/feel/do at the end of your presentation. Your answer will drive every message and every slide.
  • Thoughtful, meticulous analysis is impossible during a presentation. Save details, charts and exhibits as handouts for the end of the presentation to satisfy skeptics. Think of your presentation as “The Greatest Hits.”
  • Build only one idea per slide, like a sentence. More than one idea? Create another slide.
  • Replace bullet points and charts with stories.
  • Incorporate pictures, experiences, metaphors, videos and audio. Show, don’t tell.
  • Move your audience towards immediate action by creating tension, surprises and consequences for not acting.

The person speaking and holding the clicker holds the power. And when used correctly, PowerPoint and Keynote can be the tool that turns skeptics into believers.

Marta Steele is a partner at PeopleResults, where she trains leaders to communicate clearly and powerfully. Connect with her on Twitter @MartaSteele.

Marta Steele