Expert Tips on School Visits

When you do school visits, you’re an entertainer, a storyteller, and a magician! It’s a time to promote yourself and your books. From the moment you’re on, you want to capture the attention of your audience and keep them spellbound from beginning to end. This is easily said, but not always easily done.

Toni Buzzeo and Cynthia Lord are experts in school visits. Their workshop session at the New England SCBWI Conference was excellent. They covered everything from PowerPoint, to props, to audience management, to equipment, and delivery of presentations.

Here a few of the many tips they shared about school visits.

Younger children have a limited attention span. Make sure the length of your program is age-appropriate. Include audience interaction to keep them engaged. Props enhance your presentation – especially with younger children. If you choose to do a PowerPoint, keep it simple. Use text sparingly and put important information at the top of the screen. Children love to know about you. Pictures of you from your childhood and pictures of your pets are always a bit hit. Take time to set up before your presentation and make sure all of the equipment is working properly before you begin. If something goes wrong, have a back-up plan during the time the equipment is being fixed. When it’s time to start your presentation, make eye contact with your audience. Begin by stating your expectations of the audience. A well-paced presentation will help to keep everyone engaged.

A few more tips from Toni and Cindy. Have a contract for your school visit and put everything you want and need into your contract. Have the principal sign it. Make sure you have time between presentations — at least fifteen minutes. If all goes well, ask for a recommendation. No matter what happens, always keep a sense of humor.

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