It's no secret that I enjoy public speaking about technology and entrepreneurship. Typically, these talks are usually aimed at a young adult audience and upwards, though this age group have often made up their mind on their next career move. Young audiences are much less likely to have their future mapped out, so making a difference to this type of crowd has the potential to yield a much larger impact. Harder to measure, but early, and longstanding.
Suzie Branch from Birmingham Metropolitan College got in contact with me in a spin, they had a guest speaker planned to talk to a small group of 15 to 17-year-old students at their Creative and Digital Career College about web design but had been let down at the last minute. I jumped at the chance to help, quite literally. I said I'd do it, but they had to make sure there was enough room for me to do a backflip - it's always good to have a unique selling point!
I turn up on the day to find the room packed, with my contact on the day, Hana, having to scour the place for more chairs. There must have been 60 - 100 students in the room, not bad considering that attendance was out-of-hours and optional. I later learned that someone had spilled the beans on the backflip.
It's certainly a different game talking to this age group, as typically I like to engage the audience when I speak, asking questions and adjusting what I say to be relevant to the room. It's a lot harder to get the conversation going when everyone wants to play it cool. Backflipping aside, I kept things interesting by talking about things that they would relate to. My ventures into entrepreneurship started when I was younger than them, and I arranged by first UK acrobatics (tricking) event at the age of 15 - If I can do it, and at a younger age, then so can they.
The main lesson was around the importance of creating value, and that money follows value. Education is just one way create value that you can sell, typically in the form of being paid for employment, but it's not the only way. With the acrobatics meet-up example, I showed that people paid for and travelled some distance to come to my events because it was unique and fun. Money follows value.
In talking about my journey in terms they could relate to, I was then able to advance on to deeper topics, such as how to create a business model. I didn't call it a business model, but this was the takeaway message. It's basic business, you first create the value, and then identify a way to productise and sell that value in a way that is sustainable.
Though not many people put their hands up to ask questions throughout, I could tell the talk went well when I had a long queue of people waiting to speak to me at the end one-to-one on one basis. And feedback from Suzie was fantastic too:
I'd like to say a massive thank you for coming in to support the Creative and Digital Career College – I have had absolutely fantastic feedback from the tutors and students so can’t thank you enough for taking the time to work with us like this.
Suzie Branch - Director, Birmingham Metropolitan College
If you'd like to see the full slides, then you can download them here.