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What happens when high school students are TOLD to text?

What happens when you ask 200 high school students to do EXACTLY what they’ve always been told to NEVER do — take out their cellphones and start texting!

You get some fascinating insight…. from the instant text message polling system that I use in all my keynote presentations.

Such was the scene the other day when I ended up doing a rather unusual kind of keynote — a talk about the future of careers for my son’s grade 12 Science & Technology program. I normally find myself on stage in front of senior level business executives in Las Vegas, Orlando .. and just previously this week,the CEO’s of a few global organizations with two events in Washington, DC.

My son asked if I could speak to his group, and we picked a date in the schedule. The theme? How would future trends impact their career – and what should they be thinking about in terms of future career and skills flexibility.

What a wonderful session! There was absolute shock in the room when I asked the students right at the start, seconds in, to take out their phones. We were going to do a live text message poll, I told them — and there were absolute murmurs of excitement.

My first question to them? The poll put to them asked if they had any degree of certainty on “what they wanted to be” when they grew up. The results weren’t unsurprising.

You can watch this section from the keynote in the video clip below; it is quite fascinating to watch the mechanics of the poll as it unfolded.

Later during the session, I asked them how many careers they thought they might have throughout their lifetime

This generation gets it — by far the vast majority knows that they will have multiple different careers throughout their lifetime.

Next up? How many jobs might they have?

Bingo! They definitely know that they are going into a workforce that will demand a lot of change and flexibility!

Last but not least, we spent some time looking into the concept of innovation. Check out what they think are some of the attitudes that most often hold them back from exploring new ideas:

Which begs the question: do their older peers discount their ideas and insight all too readily? There’s lots more to explore from this unique day, but I thought the results of the text message polls were particularly enlightening.

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