Magazine article National Association of School Psychologists. Communique

Crafting Effective Presentations

Magazine article National Association of School Psychologists. Communique

Crafting Effective Presentations

Article excerpt

Editor's Note: These handouts are fully formatted for distribution and available for downloading on the NASP website. Click on Communiqué Online.

School psychologists are often called upon to give presentations to staff, parents, or other stakeholders such as school board members or local politicians. The purpose can range from providing simple strategies on a specific issue to advocating for support (policy and funding) for a particular program. Being purposeful in creating your presentation by knowing your audience and focusing your messages will help you put together the most effective presentation to meet your communication needs.


There are numerous situations that would require a school psychologist to make a presentation.

* School-based professional development.

* PTA or other parent meetings.

* School board meetings.

* Parent education classes.

* Community meetings.


As in any form of communications planning, it is key to know your audience and to speak to their priorities.

* Tailor your language to reflect the prior knowledge base of the group to which you are speaking. Avoid overusing professional jargon or abbreviations.

* Spend time at the outset of your presentation to gather information about prior knowledge about the issue and expectations for the presentation.

* Consider the aspects of your presentation that might be challenging or potentially controversial to your audience. It is often helpful to present both sides of a controversy while avoiding taking a side, unless it is relevant to your key message.

* Decide ahead of time how you will handle confrontational comments or questions.

* Consider your audience's willingness to engage in interactive activities such as roleplays, collaborative problem identification or solving, or brainstorming.


Presentations generally are divided into four segments:

* Introduction: Serves to draw the listener into the presentation. Some speakers use humor to do this. Another approach is to describe the urgency of the message ("Cuts in school psychology positions will critically affect those students most at risk for social isolation, school failure, or drop-out") or focus on a timely issue that interests your audience ("Tomorrow school starts, and we all have an important role in helping students succeed"). Justify the importance of this topic to this specific audience.

* Body of the Presentation: Deliver your important messages with supporting facts and representative stories. Engage the audience in hands-on activities such as role-playing, think-pair-share, or brainstorming. Get the audience up out of their chairs and moving if possible. Use multiple types of media to deliver your message including slides, videos, audio recordings, and reading materials.

* Conclusion: Encourage listeners to take action (this may mean support school psychology, implement the intervention you presented, set up consistent routines at home, etc.). Include an activity to help your participants consider how they will implement the information that they have learned. As part of your conclusion, have participants complete an evaluation of your presentation. Results of this evaluation will help you determine if you met your objectives in the presentation as well as help you make changes for future presentations.

* Question and Answer: Try to anticipate the questions that might be asked and determine what points you'll make in your answers. Decide ahead of time if you will answer questions that are specific to an individual or school. …

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