Speak Out at Meetings

These organizations are always seeking guest speakers, relevant and pressing topics, and interesting presentations. Your presentation doesn’t need to be long—just powerful and sincere, the rest will follow. You have been working toward opportunities like this since the beginning. You are now ready! Bring a fellow play committee member—and some children if it’s an appropriate setting—and share the message that ALL children need play for their healthy social, physical, and cognitive development. And, remember, always end with a powerful and specific request for action. Then follow up, follow up, and follow up.

"The debt we owe to the play of the imagination is incalculable."
– Carl Jung, Swiss psychoanalyst, 1875–1961


With a vision, data, and a passionate message, you are now ready to spread the word about the importance of play. No matter the situation—personal, professional, spontaneous, planned, or somewhere in the middle—you can always benefit by abiding by these simple tips:

  • Personalize your remarks. Find out who your audience will be. How many? Age? Education? Income? Special interests or concerns about play?

  • Be prepared to answer possible questions, especially the ones you’d rather not answer.

  • Follow the “golden rule” of public speaking: Tell your audience what you are going to tell them, then tell them, and then, in your conclusion, tell them what you told them.

  • Practice a conversational style of delivery that will allow you to look at the audience most of the time. It’s a good idea to have a script (in large print) or notes. It’s not a good idea to read your remarks.

  • Have a clear message and call to action. Stick to three key points. Tell the audience why your message is important to them and what it is exactly that you want them to do.

  • Tell stories, your own and others. Read a touching thank-you letter of a child or share your own story.

  • Use visual aids when appropriate. Cartoons, newspaper clippings, and charts can help tell the story.

  • Show your enthusiasm. That is what “sells” the message.

  • Keep your remarks brief, about twenty minutes plus questions.

  • Thank the audience members for being good listeners, giving you the opportunity tospeak, and lending their support.

Speaker's checklist


I will:

  • Analyze my audience and prepare my key message.
  • Plan my introduction and conclusion.
  • Prepare an outline with supporting points and benefits, stories, and examples.
  • Plan handouts and visual aids.

Dealing with anxiety

I will:

  • Write out my speech.
  • Make notes in margins.
  • Rehearse the speech.
  • Visualize myself giving a successful presentation.
  • Arrive early and check out the room and test equipment.
  • Breathe deeply just before speaking.
  • Anticipate questions and prepare answers.

Delivering the presentation

I will:

  • Be aware of what I’m saying and how it sounds.
  • Be enthusiastic, animated, and conversational.
  • Use a clear, strong voice.
  • Pace my presentation.
  • Talk—not read.
  • Repeat questions to clarify and answer to the whole group.

Looking the part

  • Dress for the occasion; formal is not always better.

Remember to

  • Stand up straight.
  • Look people in the eye.
  • Use—but don’t overuse—hand gestures.
  • Keep hands at your sides when not using them.
  • Smile.

Know when to quit

  • Time your speech when you rehearse it.
  • Don’t go over your allotted time.
  • Your goal is to have the audience want to hear more, not less.