Today provided me with an eye-opening experience.
I asked students to provide the class with guidelines from their point of view, of what kinds of speeches they would like to hear. This exercise, which I totally made up, was supposed to help the students with their topic selection.
I think they’re all scared to death. The students are far and away more demanding that any professor would ever think about being.
Here’s what they want to hear in a talk:
They want to learn but nothing too complicated.
Forget all issues related to religion or politics.
Nothing controversial, but nothing “normal” either.
It has to be “edgy” but not offensive.
Insert a celebrity and you’re fine.
The topic has to relate to them, but don’t tell them what they already know.
Funny is good. Happy endings are cliche.
Wow is good. Prefer talks that are inspirational and motivational.
Nothing about business.
The thing is, these college students represent all of us as audiences. And if you ask them what they want, they come up with absolutely impossible demands.
The trick is, key in on benefits to the audience. Organize and support your core message. Insert humor and celebrities whenever possible. Keep it short and snappy.
And lastly, remember you can’t please everyone all the time.