This week we’re talking about three essentials when communicating with kids. Specifically we’re talking about:

  • Humor
  • Credibility
  • Packaging

Last time I wrote about how critical humor is to any audience, especially to kids. It’s one of the best ways to build rapport and keep their attention throughout the talk. Today we’re going to dive into credibility. 

Kids are going to listen to you for a little while simply because you’re an adult, but that’s not enough to keep them for the duration of your talk. Humor helps, but there’s something even more powerful that answers the question every kid is asking, “why should I listen to you.” It’s called credibility.

Credibility is built many ways.

  • Humor is a great way. Humor is a HUGE part of who kids are and when you make them laugh, you become “okay” in their book. It’s why I often use a lot of humor early in my talk… to build credibility.
  • Knowledge of their world/life helps more that you understand. When your message makes reference to their favorite character in the show they watch every day, it brings a smile to their face. When you use a book they and all their friends have been reading as part of an illustration, they lean in. To earn this kind of credibility, you must  be a student of their world.
  • Relationship trumps everything. EVERYTHING. If the audience feels that they know you, and you them – they’re going to listen to what you have to say.

When speaking to a group of kids I know, I call on names in the audience. I tell stories that involve people who are there. I actually ask questions of specific people in the crowd. It makes the talk more personal and those listening feel like this is less of a lecture and more of a conversation. Even if they don’t personally know you, they feel like you are “knowable.”

When speaking to a group of kids I don’t know (like at a camp), there are lots of things I try to do really quickly that helps me build credibility. I eat every meal at a different table with the kids I’m speaking to. It’s easy to want to sit with the camp staff, but this time with the kids is critical. Usually the kids are AMAZED that you’d choose to sit with them. I’ll also spend the entire first day doing activities with the kids. I’ll play at the lake all day, or compete with them at the recreation activities. With 15+ years of experience speaking at camps, retreats, VBS and revivals, I’ve learned that when you play with kids, you earn the right to speak to them.

The message you hold is far too important to miss this. Constantly think of how you can earn credibility with your audience and do whatever it takes to capture their attention.