An engaging presentation will involve the audience as much as possible. Here are some suggestions you can use or adapt when talking to school groups.
Be animated, vary the tone and speed of your voice, move around the room and use physical gestures. Be conversational, use humour and share stories.
Choose local examples or current issues to make them relevant. Try to connect what you're saying to the pupil's knowledge and experience in order to make the content meaningful
If you have examples of things you use in your working day (models, plans, equipment) take them along. Passing around concrete objects brings the job to life and will probably elicit lots of questions from your audience.
Share stories and anecdotes from your professional experience or time as a student.
Did you know that teachers ask up to 400 questions in a day? Try and build questioning into your presentation or activity. Make as much use as possible of "high-order questions". These do not have a "yes" or "no" answer and require pupils to think. Example of higher-order questions could be "What makes somewhere a place?", "Why does it matter where we build houses?", "How will your local area change in the future?"
Try to allow time throughout for the pupils to ask questions, not just at the end.
Questioning can be a good way to "book end" an activity and measure its effect. Ask the pupils the same question at the beginning and end of the session and get them to record their answers. For example, "What does a Town Planner do?"
At the beginning or in the middle of the activity or lesson you could give your audience a chance to stretch their legs. Ask the pupils one or two closed questions with a yes/no answer and get them to stand up/move to one side of the classroom/face the back in the air if they agree. The questions can be linked to what you have been discussing: "Should we build more houses in the local area?" or "Do you think your area will be more sustainable in 10 years' time?"
To ensure as many children as possible are engaged, create an atmosphere where they are happy to ask and answer questions:
- Allow thinking time before asking for a response
- Allow pupils time to discuss an answer with the person next to them or break the class into groups
- Pick someone to answer rather than asking for hands up (they can nominate a classmate if they do not want to share)