I am probably the least qualified of any member of Wordsmiths to write about the School Market! I have never written for an educational publisher, and the only school visits I’ve ever done were a presentations, for a few years, for Career Week at the elementary school where my daughter teaches. Let’s just say these were not the high quality presentations she, and I, would have liked! But, here are a few tips I learned along the way to help anyone’s school presentation be better.
*Speak slowly! When we are nervous we tend to speak more quickly (at least I do) and not only is it difficult for listeners to keep up, but what you thought was a 20 minute presentation can easily turn out to take only 10 !!
*Be as inter-active as possible. When you can get the students involved, they become more eager and interested (and the time goes faster, too!)
*Visual aids are always a help. Even if you don’t have a published book, pages from magazines with your stories and articles on them (especially if they are in color) will hold students’ interest. Any other charts or posters you can devise will also be interesting.
*Have “freebies” to give out, if possible. Elementary school kids love to get something free and unexpected. Small token hand-outs, such a bookmarks or copies of your short story, or other similar items are always a hit.
*Be prepared for questions, even the unusual. Teachers often prepare the class to ask such things as, “What do you like best about your job?” and “What is the most unusual thing that ever happened to you in your work?” But I’ve also heard “Are you rich?” and, from one bemused young boy, “How old were you when you got married?!”
*Be prepared to sign autographs! For some reason, young kids are enthralled by getting someone’s signature, and even if I wasn’t the most scintillating speaker, they still asked me to sign the copies of my stories or even a blank piece of paper.
*Always keep a smile on your face, even if you feel you are sinking fast, and thank the teacher for inviting you and the students for listening.
I don’t know if I’ll do school visits again, but if I do, I’ll keep the above ideas in mind. I hope they will help others, too!