How to Make a Rat Presentation
by Debbie “The Rat Lady” Ducommun
Speaking before a group is said to be one of the greatest fears for most people, and I’m not writing this with the idea of turning all of you into public speakers, but there might come a time when you have the opportunity to help educate a group of people about rats, and hopefully this article will help some of you to try it. The most common opportunity to talk about rats is to a small group of children at a school, library, or club, and talking to children tends to be less scary than talking to a group of adults. Starting out by talking to children is a good way to gain experience and become more comfortable making presentations.
of us won’t have the opportunity to talk to a really large group of
people. I wish! Even when I make a presentation it is usually to no more than
thirty people, about the average size class. Probably the largest group I ever
spoke to was at an elementary school in
When preparing for a presentation, the first thing to figure out is, who is your audience, and what do you want to tell them? The presentation I make to a kindergarten class is completely different than a class of veterinary technician students, or even to a sixth-grade class. You need to tailor your presentation to the audience, and the younger they are, the more simple your message needs to be. For young children, your topic might be “rats make good pets, and all pets need proper care.” For grades five and up, your topic might be “rats are just as smart, brave and loving as dogs,” and include the importance of early socialization. For adults, you could add in the facts about live rodents being sold in pet shops for snake food and why this needs to change.
No matter the age of your audience members, everyone loves a story, and stories are one of the best ways to engage an audience and get your point across. Stories are also easier to remember than plain facts. So, every presentation can benefit from at least one story. You can start practicing by telling the stories to friends.
Here is my favorite story to tell:
In 1994, a newspaper in
Choose two to five stories to tell, depending on the age of your audience and the amount of time you have for your presentation. The outline of your presentation should list just the name each story. Don’t try to write them out; tell them in your own words. The outline should also list the points that you want to make. Again, don’t try to write everything out. You know this stuff! Print the outline large enough to read at a glance.
Practice your presentation alone as often as you need to so you feel comfortable with it. Then try practicing in front of a friend, or your mom(!) and listen to their feedback. This will help you figure out how much time it takes for your presentation. Be sure to leave enough time for questions. If time is an issue, have handouts for more info (Rat Fan Club brochures are available).
Something else that I do in all my presentations is to show how rats are smart enough to learn tricks, and are willing to wear costumes to please us. If a rat on her own isn’t cute enough to overcome someone’s dislike of rats, maybe a cute costume will be! Unfortunately, my rats don’t usually perform their tricks in public as well as I’d like, and I don’t expect all of you to teach your rats tricks just to make presentations. But costumes are a great way to show that rats are more like little dogs, and not hamsters. Most rats are happy to pose in a costume for a short time as long they are getting treats, and as long as the costume doesn’t restrict their arms or legs.
I reread the story I wrote in the Rat
Report newsletter about my trip to the school in
You’ll need a small table, and it helps to put the rat up on a pedestal about six to eight inches across to keep him in one place as he models the costumes. You can buy a small trash can at a dollar store and turn it upside down.
You might consider bringing books about rats, both to recommend to people and so that after your presentation, people can look at the pictures.
Here are some additional tips about giving a presentation that I gleaned from the internet.
Here is the information you need to ask the person who invites you to give the presentation:
Arrive early enough so you have some time to walk around the room your presentation will be in, to help you feel more comfortable there. (If your presentation is in a classroom, this might not be possible.) If you will be using a microphone, test it.
Remember to bring with you:
Everyone tends to be nervous before giving a presentation (even me!) but that same nervous energy that causes stage fright can help you if you channel it into vitality and enthusiasm for your topic. To help relax:
After the talk:
1.Why rats make good pets
a. social, therefore affectionate, personable and interactive
b. smart—knows name, can learn tricks
c. playful, they laugh in ultrasound
d. domesticated vs. wild
2. Drawbacks to having rats
a. short life span
c. urine marking
3. Varieties of Rats
a. over 35 colors
b. coats: smooth, rex, hairless
c. appendages: Dumbo ears, tailless
4. Equipment needed for rats
c. water bottle
g. play area, ie. couch, bed
5. Common Health problems
a. respiratory infections
b. mammary tumors, spaying helps prevent
c. minor injuries and abscesses usually don’t need treatment
6. Where to get a rat (pros and cons of each)
a. pet shop - pets vs. feeders
b. rescue or shelter
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