What a 10-year-old can teach you about presenting

Of course the New York Times headline “PowerPoint is the Most Effective Way for Kids to Manage their Parents” caught my eye. It’s about presentations - how could it not? I gobble up any new info I can about my work. The article is compelling (a 13-year-old’s spelling mistakes notwithstanding). There’s plenty to learn here:

  • Structure - Thirteen-year-old Makennah provides a background of K-Pop before launching into her Christmas wish list of BTS merch.

  • Value of the Spoken Word - Makennah adroitly delivered her pitch in person - not via email. Smart young woman.

  • Sales savvy - Cade Collins, a 14-year-old from Tennessee, advises peers to be prepared for parents’ objections. Smart young man.

  • Visual aids have impact - See the story of 19-year-old Maria Stopenski, who displayed a life-sized cutout of boy band heartthrob Niall Horan (formerly of One Direction). The cardboard prop illustrated Niall’s good looks.

But what really captivated me was the story behind the story. The author, Katherine Rosman, published her story, “How My Daughter’s PowerPoint Inspired a Times Article.” Rosman’s daughter, 10-year-old Ella, made her plea for a cell phone via PowerPoint, and I gotta say, she’s got some chops. (Wonder if she’d assist one of my workshops?)

Ella began her slide show by asking her audience (Mom and Dad) to hold all questions and interruptions until she was finished with the entire deck. Did you get that? Brilliant! Ask your audience not to interrupt! Ask them to hold their questions!

Ella added a dramatic flourish (I have a theater background, so I love me some drama!) by presenting not just simple reasons for a phone (although she did), but worst-case, OMG HORROR STORY! reasons why she needed a cell phone. (Sadly, one reason was a possible active shooter in her school. That part made me tear up. I shouldn’t have to be typing this, nor should any child who goes to school ever need to know what that is, but, sadly, they do, and I am.) While I don’t love the “shooter” possibility, I do love Ella’s use of worst-case-scenarios to make a case. Do you ever do this in your work? In your speeches? I’m going to, now! Thanks, Ella!

And I loved what Rosman called Ella’s “near-genius manipulation.” See below:

Ella, when you’re out of college and need a job, call me. I might need your help.

And keep up the good work!