If you’d like to give a presentation on behalf of The Planetary Society in your community, you have two general options:
Here we’ll walk you through some general guidelines for each option.
Participate in an existing event
- Astronomy club meetings: Many towns and cities have a local amateur astronomy club, bringing together people who are interested in astronomy and telescopes. They often hold regular meetings and are open to bringing in guest speakers to give presentations on space/science topics to their members. Try Googling the name of the place you live and the words “astronomy club” to see what might exist in your community. Once you find it, reach out to the point of contact to ask whether they’d be interested in having you speak at their meeting.
- School/university club meetings: If you’re a student, you’ll probably find one or more student groups that might be interested in hearing a presentation about one of The Planetary Society’s topics.
- Pub nights: In many towns and cities you can find informal lecture series that take place in local pubs, bars or breweries. People give short talks on a variety of subjects, all in a casual and friendly setting. Try looking up keywords like “astronomy on tap”, “science on tap”, “talks on tap” or other variations to see if something like this exists in your community.
- Meetups: The internet is a great tool for bringing together people with shared interests. On websites like Facebook and Meetup you can find local interest groups that discuss topics either online or in person. These groups can be a great audience for The Planetary Society’s presentations.
Organize something yourself
If any of the events mentioned above don’t exist yet in your community, consider starting one! Talk to a local pub, bar, or brewery about hosting an informal talk. Create a group on Meetup or Facebook for space/science enthusiasts. Or just organize a get-together with friends who might be interested in learning about a space topic.
Giving a Great Presentation
When you’ve determined where and when you’ll give your presentation, the next thing to do is practice, practice, practice!
Make sure that you familiarize yourself with the content of the presentation really well so that you don’t have to read your notes while you present. You don’t have to memorize the exact words, but you should know the main points to cover for each slide. If there are aspects of a slide’s content that you don’t fully understand, do some additional online research until you are confident that you’ve got it. Once you know the content well enough, you’ll be able to speak about it in a natural way, in your own words, emphasizing what you think are the most interesting points. If it’s your style to do so, you might also add your own commentary or humor to the presentation, personalizing it and making it more engaging to your audience.
If you don't do much public speaking, record yourself giving the talk on your phone, and then watch your talk. Listen to it without watching it to catch verbal habits you may have. Watch it without sound to see if you have distracting physical habits. Watch out for talking too fast. Allow yourself to finish one sentence before going on to the next. Enunciate!
Answer questions if you can, but don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t have all the answers. It's never a bad thing to say "I don't know," and you can always follow that up with "here is how I would find out the answer." You can also direct people to plantary.org to learn more about the topic. This is also a great way to encourage people to go out and learn more about a topic themselves.