Episode 26: Timely Tips!

Episode 25:

Shanda and Bonnie have a list of tips (from mistakes they've made in the past)!

(Bonnie) Welcome to the Author Visit Podcast! I’m author Bonnie Clark. 

(Shanda) And I’m author-illustrator, Shanda McCloskey. 

(Bonnie) Today we are recording our “Timely Tips” episode! 

(Shanda) We live in a different world now than most of us grew up in, so we thought we could compile some of our lessons learned about speaking to today’s groups of modern kids. We’ve made the mistakes for you, so you don’t have to! 

(Shanda) Let’s get started on our tips… 

  1. Address students as non gender specific.
    Say something like… hello friends, or young scientists, or my friend in the back row with a green shirt that has their hand up. (Do not assume a child is a boy or girl just because they appear so. Trust me on this one!

  2. Acknowledge a serious student comment
    If a child tells you something unfortunate directly to you or aloud in a presentation, just stay cool. Say something like… I’m really sorry that happened or that must’ve been hard. Then redirect the attention back to the intended subject. The student will felt heard and not embarrassed.

  1. Off topic student answers/questions
    Say … that would be fun to talk about later if we have time, but right now let’s keep going on this…

  2. Responding to an incorrect student answer
    Say something like… that’s a really good guess or I like the way you’re thinking, but actually…

  3. Be careful not to embarrass a kid volunteer
    Remind all the students that the task at hand is new to this person (such as drawing a robot) so we definitely don’t expect perfection, and we are just having some fun.

  4. If a child argues your point in a presentation
    Say something like… You are very smart, my friend! But can we agree on this part? And then leave it be. Or that’s an interesting idea. I’ll have to think about that.

  5. What if a child throws up, loses a tooth, or starts their period during the presentation?
    Most of the time teachers are keenly aware when their students are off and will jump to handle the situation before you even notice it, but if you do, never appear surprised or grossed out. Just motion to an adult in the room if needed. Appear unwavered and continue with your presentation as if nothing happened at all. The students will follow your lead.

  6. When asking for a kid volunteer, wait a moment to allow for shyer kids
    A few extra seconds might be all the time a shyer child needs to muster up the bravery to raise their hand.

  7. As kids come into the space and get seated BEFORE I officially start, I like to pass the time and small talk with some of the students and ask them things like What’s for lunch today? or What were y’all doing before you came to the library? I think it helps all of us shake off nerves and just establish a comfortable environment and approachability.

  8. Start with engagement
    A sure fire way to grab kids’ attention is to start with a question they can respond to with a simple show of hands. Depending on your purpose for speaking you might ask, “How many artists do we have in the room?” Something as simple as this will immediately get students involved and thinking. Using enthusiasm in your voice and body language helps engagement too.

  9. End with engagement
    At the conclusion of your talk, maybe you could ask for another show of hands in response to the same question you asked at the beginning of your presentation? “Now, how many artists do we have in the room?” See if the number of hands that goes up changes because of the presentation. Or simply end with good ole Q&A!

  10. At some point things WILL go wrong.
    Don’t sweat it. Learn, adjust and move on!

  11. Bonnie Tip
    I like to show a picture of myself at the age of the group I'm speaking to- it gets their attention & they seem surprised that I was ever a kid!

  12. Bonnie Tip
    sometimes I ask the teachers what their specific protocol is (or tips and tricks) for getting back the attention of an excited group (ie: "one, two, three,  eyes on me)

  13. Bonnie Tip
    For K & 1st grades instead of asking for questions at the end (because up get a lot of random comments and ZERO questions) I ask them something specific for example for TYW: "Tell me something KIND you can say to someone and what that TASTES like) 

(Shanda) That wraps up our 26th Timely Tips episode! You can find me at, on Twitter/X: @ShandaMcCloskey, and on Instagram/Threads: @shandamccloskeydraws

(Bonnie) This podcast is sponsored by and produced by Ben McCloskey. And if you enjoyed this episode, please rate-and-review us on Apple Podcasts! 

(Shanda) What did you think about this episode? Or maybe you have an idea for a future episode? Let us know through the contact form on 

Happy school visit season! Bye!!!