Quick Tips

Students like to be involved not lectured to.

Ask for their ideas on real issues in the community.

Control the discussion by:

  • Limiting the topic

  • Explain boundaries clearly before beginning

  • Listen respectfully and honor their opinions while expressing yours

  • Be yourself and relax; students respond best to "real" people

Tips for speaking to older students

Assess the students' familiarity with your subject by checking with the teacher to find out what the students have already covered in class. Don't bore them by dwelling on basic information they already know, or talk over their heads with technical information they're not ready to absorb.

Honor the time limit given by the teacher, even if you have to narrow the focus of your presentation.

Bring displays and handouts that illustrate your comments.

Make your message personal for students, something they can relate to. Ask them questions to help them put the information into perspective. If possible, relate it to something going on in their community.

Use examples from the real world to make your point. List some real citizen complaints, explain how the alignment of a real road was selected, detail the real concerns of a business relocating to your community.

Try not to let one or two students dominate the discussion. Ask "Does someone else have an answer (or question)?"

Give the students your address so they can contact you if they have a concern or need. Bring business cards or write the information on the board at the end of your presentation.

Have fun! Enjoy yourself! Let the students see that local government officials are real people, and not just names in the newspaper.

Adapted from "Back to the Classroom" by the North Carolina City and County Management Association