What if I’m not a comedian and I can’t sing OR dance?

KimNorman_Gocio MarqueeI’m not a comedian either, but – while I can sing and dance – that doesn’t make me a better presenter, or put me in greater demand, than many of my school visit colleagues. Sure, it’s great if you have an extra talent/skill you can apply to your school  presentations. Do you juggle? Ride a unicycle? Know a few magic tricks? Those would all be cool to add into your presentation, but make sure they’re tied to your primary message as a visiting author.

Me (right) with my tap dancing partner Rene in a community theater production of "Steppin' Out."
Me (right) with my tap dancing partner Rene in a community theater production of “Steppin’ Out.”

For instance, I sometimes do sing to the youngest assemblies (pre-k thru 1, sometimes 2, if they’re mixed into a younger assembly.) For that age group – time permitting – I often close the program with a song I wrote myself, “The Storytime Boogie.” I have always called myself an “evangelist for bedtime reading,” so I lead into the song by saying something like:

“I’d like to close with a song, but before I do, I’m gong to ask you a VERY IMPORTANT QUESTION. You know what? I’ll bet when I ask this question even your teachers are going to raise their hands.” (This often causes students to peer curiously at their teachers, and I always hope that teachers are paying attention so they can play along with me.) “The question is: when you go home to night, WHO IS GOING… (dramatic pause)…TO READ A BOOK BEFORE BEDTIME?!”

I raise my own hand enthusiastically, and am seldom disappointed by the teachers in the room, whose hands also shoot up. Most students raise their hands, too. Then I explain that this is a song about reading at bedtime. If you’ll pardon my lame video editing skills, you can view “The Storytime Boogie,” HERE, on YouTube.

So, yes, it’s nice that I can close with a song. (Still working on how to add dance to my programs!) But often there’s no time for the song, and I still get good feedback that students and staff enjoyed the sessions. And, of course, I didn’t sing them just any song. It’s a song tied to my reading-and-writing message.

As long as you have a strong message and you keep things moving in an entertaining way, no one will care if you don’t show off any classic variety-show talents in your programs.

PlanningYourVisit_coverSmall_byKimNormanHave you signed up for Cool School Visits updates? Sign up using the form on the upper right side of this page, and you’ll receive a free copy of my guide, PLANNING YOUR AUTHOR SCHOOL VISIT, which includes sample programs and breakdowns to target your sessions to different grade levels. (If you’re on a smart phone, keep scrolling and you’ll find the form at the very bottom of any blog post, below any comments.)