How To Put Together An Engaging
Presentation For Students

How To Put Together An Engaging Presentation For Students

Written by Soul Witness
🕒 March 02, 2020

Yay! You’re officially official!

You just got asked to speak to a class about what it’s like being in the news business. Cue the panic and pressure of having to put together a presentation.

Don’t worry, here are some tips to help you work through those nerves…

We all learned it in public speaking, but it definitely comes in handy and can’t be overlooked when it comes to prepping for a presentation: Know your audience.

I’ve spoken to students ranging in age six to 26. Make sure to ask the teacher, or professor, how old the students are or what classification they fall into.

Also, for the older age groups, be sure to ask if the students are involved in yearbook, on their school’s AV team, or if the class itself is about journalism or news. That will help you narrow down how much you need to break things down into layman’s terms.

The next thing to ask: What kind of AV/tech does that classroom have? I learned this one the hard way.

I’ve worked so hard on a presentation before only to get there and find out, there’s no way for it to be seen…

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That’s why I’m also an advocate for props! If this happens to you, you can always fall back on the items you brought!

Now to the actual presentation… When it comes to the younger kiddos, visuals are key! (Plus, they usually think everything is cool so you’ll get some easy points there!)

I try to include pictures of our newsroom, the control room, other equipment, some photos from out in the field, and so on. Just be prepared for tons of questions, and having to explain (in general, easy to understand terms) EVERYTHING.

If you can, you could also bring along your gear and show that to them as well! I don’t let them touch my “big camera,” but if I have a GoPro or something that can withstand little hands, I’ll let them pass that around the room. (More cool points for you!)

For the older groups, you can go more in-depth. But as we all know, because we went through this stage as well…teenagers can be difficult.

Usually, there are a few who are interested, especially if they want to be journalists, or work in TV, but there are also the ones who just think everything is “uh… like, so lame.” Don’t let those students get to you. Sometimes they may be the ones who are the most interested but won’t show it because emotions are …like…soooo uncool. 🙄

When it comes to the college students, I get REAL.

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These students are usually the ones in those news related classes, so they have a little bit of an idea of what they want to do, and they tend to have some basic news knowledge.

I tell them upfront that they can ask me anything, and I’m not going to sugar coat the answer, because this is the time they really need to start thinking about their futures and careers. This not only gets their attention, but makes them feel like they are “allowed” to ask the tough and “I’ve always wanted to know, but have been too scared to ask” types of questions.

I do include some of the bad, scary, not fun stuff about being in the news business, but I also make sure to include all the wonderful things that can come from being in the business like the difference you can make to cities and/or individuals.

I talk about acting and dressing properly, social media etiquette, hair, make up, getting ready in gas stations, long days, lots of hours, eating healthy and taking vitamins, the ups and downs, the amazing feeling you get from telling a great story, the adrenaline from going live…all of it.

My goal is to make sure they are prepared for what they’re going to get into because frankly, most of us weren’t.

Some other topics you could touch on are social media etiquette (yes, I’m mentioning it again because it’s important), applying for their first job, creating a reel, moving up in the markets, taking chances and getting their foot in the door, how to make cold calls, having proper manners (yes, it’s obvious but so often overlooked), news judgment, contracts, and staring salaries.

If you’re looking for more ideas when it comes to visuals or props, think about what you would like to have seen or been shown at that age. It could be your gear, reel, a story you’re proud of, pictures of you doing “crazy” stuff for stories, your go bag, your idea notebook or journal, anything you think would be interesting! It’s your presentation so you get to showcase your style!

If you want to do an activity with the students: You could have them make cold calls to try to set up an interview with you being the interviewee, or you could let them pitch a story idea. If they have access to computers, you could have them try to find a local story to cover, or you could do a quick writing or speaking activity. You can always come up with an activity of your own! The goal should be to make it fun, engaging, and realistic!

Keep in mind, no presentation is perfect the first…second…or third time! So, just have fun and be honest! Best of luck, you’ve got this!

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1 Comment

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