High School Speakers

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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High school speakers are faced with a unique set of challenges, as most teenage audiences are "tougher" than their university counterparts. The collegiate ranks have largely weeded out the troublemakers, including loud and disrespectful kids, sleepers, cell-phone chatters, and other such nuisances. In high school, however, these distractions are more abundant, meaning high school speakers must be more or less unflappable.

The flip side, of course, is that high school audiences tend to be less specialized than university audiences. As a result, speakers can get away with less thorough knowledge of their subjects, provided they're still engaging and dynamic enough speakers to hold the attention of a notoriously short-attention-spanned demographic: 14-18-year-olds. What these speakers lack in expertise, however, they must compensate for in entertainment value. It's incumbent upon these presenters to fill their speeches with as many pop-culture touchstones as needed to make their addresses relevant to teenage crowds.

The Careers of High School Speakers

Very seldom do high school speakers derive 100 percent of their livelihoods from the high school circuit alone. More often, lecturers run the gamut from high schools and even junior high schools to corporations and social clubs. Needless to say, these professionals must adjust their content and delivery accordingly. The same things that hold sway over a teenager aren't remotely the same as those that captivate adults, even if the themes or motifs remain constant.

Athletes, actors, and other "cool" celebrities seem to fare best as high school speakers for obvious reasons. Namely, they needn't work as hard to earn their audience's respect. A health specialist or "life skills" expert approaching a high school crowd does so at his or her own peril, especially if he or she comes with an overly stern or moralistic lesson to impart. Adults who speak plainly and candidly, even about the hardest issues, and don't take on a paternalistic tone are more readily embraced by this irreverent and judgmental group.


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