When sixth-grader Sophie Paterson of New Zealand announced that farting was the topic of her speech during a speech competition last fall, the audience snapped to attention.
With her younger brother, Ben, nearby, ready to hold up diagrams that further explained her topic, Sophie launched into her speech:
Farting is a fact of life. Everybody farts. I think farts are hilarious.
Most of the time, when friends email me things like this, I try to ignore them. But I couldn’t resist looking at this one. As I read Sophie’s speech, I struck by how many lessons it offers for authors, speakers, writers and others who want publicity. Here are the lessons I found buried in her winning speech on farting:
1. Get outside your comfort zone.
Write about, speak about, and be passionate about topics that are controversial, prickly or yucky. A sixth-grader can certainly muster a lot more enthusiasm for the topic of farting than you and I could, but she not only loves the topic, she embraces it.
2. Use visuals.
Whether you’re speaking from the platform, writing ebooks, hosting webinars, or writing press releases, visuals make words come alive. I don’t know what the diagrams looked like on the cards that Sophie’s little brother held up in front of the audience, but I’ll bet they were a scream.
3. Use lists.
Sophie’s Top 10 list of animals that fart was educational. And priceless. I love how she included “Zebras and my pony Free” in the Number 3 spot.
4. Use statistics.
Who knew that the average person farts 14 times a day, expels a half liter of gas, or that hydrogern sulphide is the compound that makes them stink?
Statistics give your topic perspective. The Internet makes it easy to obtain statistics on any topic, within seconds.
5. End with a funny poem:
A fart can be useful
It gives the body ease,
It warms the bed in winter
And suffocates the fleas.
Did you see any other lessons in her first-place speech about farts?