AASA Tips for Giving an Effective Back-to-School Presentation
You may use the following tips, in conjunction with the PowerPoint
presentations in this toolkit, to share your back-to-school messages with
audiences that are important to you and your school system.
Being an effective public speaker is a critically important skill for school
administrators, especially during the back-to-school season. Whether you are
addressing your staff, members of your school community or local business
leaders, your audience will be more receptive to your message if you give a
clear and inspirational presentation. This document offers pointers on
effectively reaching an audience with your back-to-school messages.
Five Questions to Ask in Preparing a
Back-to-School Speech or Presentation
Preparation is an essential element of an effective speech or presentation.
When you are asked to give a talk, find out some basics about who you will be
addressing and what is expected of you. Some questions to ask include:
1. Who is the audience? Try to find out as much as you can about the
audience so you can frame your message and adapt the style of your
presentation according to what is relevant and important to the
audience. Even if you have given a similar presentation before, it is
important to fine-tune your message for each audience. For example,
addressing a small group of parents may require a different approach
than addressing a large group of business leaders.
2. What is your goal? What do you hope to accomplish in giving the
presentation or speech? What are the key messages you hope to
deliver? How will you keep the audience interested and engaged?
3. What is the format? Will you be speaking alone or as part of a panel
of speakers? Will you be expected to take questions from the audience?
If a questions-and-answer session is planned, anticipate the questions
and plan possible answers.
4. How much time will you have to speak? Find out for how long you
are expected to speak and prepare your remarks to fit that timeframe.
Take a timer with you so you can keep track of your time and monitor
whether you need to speed up—or slow down—as you give your
5. Will you have access to audio-visual equipment? Work with the
event organizer to identify the room set-up and the equipment
available to you. If you plan to use PowerPoint, slides or
Back to School 2012: Telling the Good News ● Sept. 2012 ●
transparencies, make sure the venue can accommodate your
technology needs. Remember that visual aids can add interest to your
presentation and reinforce your message, but only if they are audiencefriendly. Avoid visuals such as text-heavy slides that are difficult to
Ten Tips for Engaging an Audience
Increase audience interest and make your message come alive by finding
ways to engage the audience. Strategies include:
1. Read a provocative statement.
2. Ask for a show of hands.
3. Disclose something personal.
4. Give startling facts.
5. Use a cartoon to illustrate a point or set a humorous tone.
6. Read a poem or story.
7. Show a video.
8. Ask silly questions.
9. Put words on flashcards and ask participants to call out their meaning.
10. Use body language to connect with the audience: make eye contact and
vary your pace and the inflection of your voice. Don’t hide behind a
podium—walk around the room so you are closer to the participants.
Back to School 2012: Telling the Good News ● Sept. 2012 ●