Kids Are a Tough Audience

tough audience

Speaking in front of kids can be more challenging than speaking in front of adults.  If you don’t have a creative lesson to engage them, they will create their own lesson. Kids are a tough audience.

I have read that comedians say speaking to children and trying to get them to laugh and respond is more difficult than speaking to adults.  It’s true…kids can be a tough audience to speak to.

Kids don’t hide it when they are bored with a lesson.  They will start looking around, talking to the person beside them, squirming in their seat and distracting those around them.

And some of them don’t want to be there.  But their parents made them come.  I’ve often thought what would happen if you gave kids permission to get up and leave the room when the lesson is boring.  How many kids would get up and walk out?

Here are some tips to help you win over this tough audience.

Tell stories.  If you want to win over the kid crowd, then tell stories.  There is something about a story that will draw in this tough audience.  Jesus knew this and that’s how He taught.  Look what it says about Jesus’ teaching style.

Jesus always used stories and illustrations like these when speaking to the crowds. In fact, He never spoke to them without using such parables.  This fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet: “I will speak to you in parables.  I will explain things hidden since the creation of the world.”  Matthew 13

One of the best ways to teach kids is to use Jesus’ teaching style.  He was the Master Teacher and connected with everyone He shared with.

Honor kids’ attention span.  1 minute per year maxing out at 5 minutes.  Instead of talking and talking and talking, break up your lesson plan to stop every 5 minutes or less and do something different.

It’s hard enough for adults to sit through a long sermon much less children.  I was at a church service recently and got sleepy during the sermon.  It is embarrassing when you start nodding and falling asleep. Your head falls over and it jars you back to consciousnesses for a few minutes and then your eyes start to close again.

Kids don’t normally get sleepy during a lesson, but they do get restless.  Tough audience.

Get them involved.  Instead of having them just sit there, get them up and involved in the lesson.  Have them make sound effects.  Have them be the characters in the story and act it out.  Have them hold props and object lesson items.

Use voice fluctuations.  You don’t want to sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher.  Work on whispering at key times and getting loud at other appropriate places.  Stay away from being monotone.

Use slap stick humor.  It’s not always easy to get kids to laugh.  They may or may not laugh at your jokes.  But there is one thing they will always laugh at – and that is slap stick humor.

Slap stick humor is a style of humor that involves exaggerated physical activity that exceeds the boundaries of normal physical comedy.  It can be from both intentional acts or by mishap.

The name “slapstick” originates from the Italian Batacchio or Bataccio – called the “slap stick” in English – a club-like object composed of two wooden slats used in commedia dell’arte.  When struck, the Batacchio produces a loud smacking noise, though it is only a little force that is transferred from the object to the person being struck. Actors may thus hit one another repeatedly with great audible effect while causing no damage and only very minor, if any, pain.

Some examples are someone falling down, someone accidentally hitting someone else (think 3 Stooges) and someone tripping.  Here is a video example of this in one of our curriculum lessons.  Watch what happens at 41 seconds in.

Ask the kids what is boring.  They will tell you.  And usually what they tell you is boring is correct. You just didn’t realize it.

Tough audience.  Yes.  But even the toughest of crowds can be engaged and excited about what is happening if you use these principles.

This article originally appeared here.

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Dale Hudson has been serving in children's ministry for over 30 years. He is an author, speaker and ministry leader.  He is the founder and director of Building Children's Ministry. BCM helps churches build strong leaders, teams and children's ministries.  (www.buildingchildrensministry.com)