Are you looking for a youth speaker to motivate and encourage a group of students in Sydney?
If so, you'll need to choose carefully. You want someone who will deliver the right message, with the right tone, in the right way. Positive words can impact students for life, motivating them to achieve great heights. However, the opposite also holds true.
In your search for the best one, you'll find that not every professional public speaker will be a great fit for your audience.
That's why we're here.
To help you make a decision, we've put together a comprehensive guide that covers the qualities to look for in a youth speaker. Use this as a checklist before you make your hiring decision to make sure you've chosen the right person to fill the spotlight.
Ready to learn more? Let's get started!
Why Should a Speaker Visit Your School?
What are some of the advantages of hiring a professional public speaker to visit your school?
In short, hearing from an esteemed expert with knowledge and experience on a topic can help drive an important point home. Every day, students receive motivation and guidance from a range of sources, including their parents, peers and academic counselors.
However, the very frequency of these interactions can muffle their significance. It isn't uncommon for school-age students to become numb to the words of advice from their well-meaning friends and family members. However, the same point told from a fresh perspective can make all the difference.
Take bullying, for example.
Research shows that around one in four Australian students in Year 4 to Year 9 are bullied every few weeks or on a more frequent basis. That equals 28% of the overall student population. Social media only fuels this fire, with 83% of students report bullying both in-person and on the internet.
These students have likely heard anti-bullying messages from myriad sources in their community. However, it could take hearing the same message from someone they admire or esteem to really allow the point to sink in.
Hiring a motivational speaker to visit your school allows you to introduce your audience to an entirely new viewpoint. It's an excellent way to expose them to different outlooks, widen their understanding and present a topic in a different way.
What are Some of the Qualities of a Great Youth Speaker?
As you search for the best youth speaker to visit your school, what are some of the qualities and characteristics to prioritize? Let's take a look.
Everyone has to start somewhere, but you don't want someone without any public speaking experience taking the microphone in front of a group of impressionable students.
Not only could they deliver a message that totally flops or fails to motivate. They may also lack the skills necessary to understand the context and audience and adapt their message accordingly. Vulgarities, crude references, and other inappropriate insertions have no place in an academic environment.
At the same time, an inexperienced speaker might have an unclear speaking voice, get stage fright or be otherwise ill-equipped to take centre stage. Instead, look for one who has an impressive resume of public speaking gigs under his or her belt. Ask about those presentations to learn more about the size of the audience, the message they delivered, and the approach they took.
While there are no specific educational or professional pre-requisites required to become a professional youth speaker, there are certain qualifications that can make a major difference.
For instance, someone who completed a communications degree program at university will have plenty of experience in this realm and will be comfortable speaking in front of a crowd. Even if the degree isn't in this exact field, academic courses in public speaking, public relations or communications can help students hone their presentation skills.
In addition to academic achievements, what else qualifies someone to deliver a motivational message to others?
The answer is often that person's life story. Do you know someone who overcame great odds as a youth to become a successful adult? That speaker might be more influential than someone with a laundry list of professional credentials. Still, you'll need to make sure he or she is comfortable sharing that story and can do so eloquently.
Before you hire a new speaker, check out what other people are saying about his or her work, first. A professional will have a user-friendly website that includes feedback and reviews from a range of past speaking engagements. You can also find out this information via social media accounts, community forums, and other local resources.
Are the testimonials positive and encouraging? Are there any negative ones? Read each one discerningly and don't be afraid to reach out to others in your area to see if they've hired anyone in the past that they would recommend again.
It goes without saying that not every public speaker is qualified to speak on every topic. You'll find that most of the ones that speak to local schools have their own niches. For instance, one might focus primarily on bullying, while the other might talk more about the importance of studying and time management.
It will be difficult to convince a group of students in Year 10 to reduce their social media use if the speaker is a local YouTube star. It's important to make sure the topic and speaker are an appropriate match.
Before you start researching speakers for your school event, consider the topic you want to present. This can help you narrow down your list of candidates to make sure you're choosing someone who has the necessary experience and qualifications required to speak on it.
Does the youth speaker in question practice what he or she preaches? In other words, is this a success story that schoolchildren can look up to and aspire to replicate? Someone who is successful automatically commands a stage and encourages others to listen.
You want to book a speaker who has found success in this realm. While they don't have to be an illustrious celebrity, they shouldn't be still struggling to find their place in this industry, either. Great presentations speak for themselves and once a speaker delivers a dynamic message, it isn't long before other schools and organizations in the area are in contact for an encore.
Think of it this way: Would you hire a contractor to build your home if he was available at every second of the day? Keeping a full schedule means that the expert's skills and talents are in great demand.
Look for a speaker who has an impressive calendar and list of former and future speaking engagements. Success speaks for itself, and this kind of esteem will be evident from the very beginning. If anything about the candidate's experience or accomplishments sounds fishy, it likely is.
6. The Right Motives
Does the speaking candidate appear to have the right motives? If the interview or conversation centres around your pay rate, when you'll make the payment or any other financial topic, it could be a sign that the speaker is only interested in the job for the money it will bring.
Instead, look for someone who appears to be genuinely interested in motivating your group. Yes, there should be adequate and appropriate compensation involved, but do you get the sense that they'd share the same message for free? An excellent public speaker is passionate about the topic at hand and as such, can speak convincingly on it.
Find a speaker whose motives include opening the minds of your students, encouraging them to be their best, and imparting invaluable knowledge to them. They should be more interested in the non-tangible rewards than the economical ones.
Speaking of finances, it's wise to stick with professional public speakers that are within your budget. It can be disheartening to find someone who checks every box on your list, only to find that they charge an exorbitant fee to visit your school.
Meet as an academic team to discuss how much money you'll allot to this event. Then, use those figures to guide your hiring decision. Keep in mind that the best speakers aren't always the highest-priced ones, nor are the lowest-priced ones the worst. Price should be one factor to consider as you research your options, but it shouldn't be the only one.
Does the speaker project a clear speaking voice during the interview? Or does he or she talk quietly and seem nervous the entire time? While a few nerves are to be expected, you don't want to invest in someone who will take the microphone and suddenly develop stage fright. If this happens, it can rush or ruin the entire presentation.
The best public speakers are confident that they know enough about their subject to speak authoritatively on it. This confidence should be evident during the interview. If you get the impression that they're second-guessing themselves, it should lead you to do the same.
9. Audience Engagement
Chances are, your students don't want to feel like they're in the middle of a stand-up comedy special. Your public speaker shouldn't pull everyone up on stage, embarrass anyone by calling them out against their will, or do anything else that could ostracize or isolate audience members.
Still, he or she should know the correct and effective ways to encourage audience engagement and participation. This might include asking for volunteers or requesting a group response ("Raise your hand if..."). The result will be an audience that feels involved and invested in the presentation but isn't nervous about being exposed the entire time.
A great public speaker will know when a talk is going well, and when it's getting off-track. They won't require sophisticated software to tell them that it's time to redirect their approach or try a different method.
This type of self-awareness isn't exactly taught in school. Rather, it's sharpened over time.
Look for a candidate that can read a room well, understand appropriate responses, and tweak planned methods as necessary. If someone appears too rigid or set in their ways, they might not be able to cope when the audience's response isn't what they expected.
In addition, a youth speaker should also be flexible in the approach that they use to deliver a message. One audience might respond better to shared images and video, while others will benefit the most from a strictly oratory offering. If you have ideas on ways to engage your students and they're unwilling to consider them, it's time to continue your search elsewhere.
11. Showmanship & Enthusiasm
It goes without saying that you need a speaker who can capture the audience's attention and keep it the entire time. Passion and enthusiasm are contagious and go hand-in-hand. If the speaker appears subdued and muted, their presentation might be a better fit for an older or less impressionable audience.
There's no denying that schoolchildren of all ages grow bored easily. However, this trait isn't limited to this demographic. Research shows that as a whole, our attention spans are now shorter than a goldfish's. The speaker has a limited time to convince your students to listen up, are they qualified to use it correctly?
Hire a Qualified Youth Speaker Today
Now that you know a few of the traits that qualify a youth speaker to stand in front of a group of students, are you ready to hire one for your next event?
If so, you've come to the right place.
Jonny Shannon is Australia's most-requested public speaker for a reason. From his story to his delivery, he's qualified and experienced in delivering youth-appropriate presentations that cover a range of topics from e-safety to mental health and bullying.
Inquire now to request a booking and gear up for a talk that will leave you talking!