A Few Things to Keep in Mind for Your School Presentations
Nancy Negus and Claudia Murray
Negus and Murray have worked for Drs Callahan, Flanagan, and Smith for a combined total of more than 30 years. They have developed an entertaining and interactive school program that successfully reaches 7,000 children per year. Here are their tips:
- Always remember to take your directions and a contact number! It will only matter the one time it matters, then it will be too late!
- Expect the unexpected. We have had double the number of expected children, weather-related delays and cancellations, sign language interpreters, nonworking microphones, equipment failure, etc. All of which is fixable, just unexpected, and requires flexibility.
- You may have to “make do” in a less than ideal situation. We’ve had to present in a hallway, a cafeteria with no screen (we always bring our own), and have been surprised by 342 students in a gymnasium when we had expected a classroom breakdown.
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- Be prepared for embarrassing, sometimes shocking, and unusual replies to your “Do you have any questions?” A general “I’m sorry to hear about that” or “I see” or “You can make different choices” covers a multitude of nondental-related statements that children are inclined to make.
- Have a backup presentation available in case there is an equipment failure. We have had the laptop fail and had to use the school’s VHS system. Fortunately for us, we had a backup tape on hand! We’ve also had to resort to the tried-and-true spoken word.
- Always confirm your date, time, and place a few days ahead. You don’t want to drive to a school 30 minutes away to find that they booked you for the following week. Your mistake or theirs, at that point, it doesn’t matter.
- If you have handouts, be sure they are all exactly the same and give them to the teachers to distribute at the end of the day. Otherwise, the children will be squirting toothpaste on one another and trading toothbrushes.
- Have fun! Your mood is infectious, and they will enjoy themselves if you are enjoying yourself.