• Arrive early for your presentation. Depending upon the venue, you may want to arrive up to an hour in advance. For smaller talks not as much time is necessary. During this time, consider doing the following.
• Meet with the administration or pastor. Thank them for bringing you, and ask about the student body. Ask an administrator if there is any particular topic that you should be sensitive about (recent death, scandal, etc.). It also helps to know the demographics of the students (diversity of race and religion). This is important, because I have been to Catholic schools where the majority of students are Muslim. Without watering down the Catholic faith, tailor your talk according to the diversity of faiths and cultures represented, in order to minister to those who are not Catholic. You may also want to ask how often the students have assemblies, when the students last had a chastity assembly, who gave it, and how it went. Ask if the students know what your presentation is about, or if the topic will be a surprise to them. It is helpful when they don’t know, because they will be less likely to enter the assembly with preconceived ideas and negative expectations.
• Sound Check. Before the audience arrives, test your microphone and ask the sound crew if you need to be aware of any places where you may experience feedback. If you are using a cordless microphone, make sure the batteries are good. It’s never hurts to have a backup mic as well. Get accustomed to using different kinds of microphones (lapel, hand-held, etc.) because you always want the one that has the best acoustics.
• Prevent distractions before they happen. Let the administrator know how much time you will be speaking and ask if there will be any avoidable distractions that can be prevented (bells, air conditioning, early dismissals, etc). If some students need to be dismissed early, have them sit together in the place where it will be least distracting for everyone else when they need to leave. Audiences are typically more attentive when the temperature is cooler. However, if the air conditioning is so loud that impairs the acoustics, it’s better to turn it off. It’s better for them to listen to you in the heat than to remain cool and listen to a fan. Audiences also tend to be more attentive in the morning than after lunch, so schedule your presentation then, if possible. If there is a sign language interpreter, ask that he or she sit or stand in a place that will not be a distraction to the rest of the students, without compromising the needs of the students who are hearing-impaired. Have an administrator or pastor ask the teens to turn off all cell phones, ipods, GPS systems, X-Boxes, or whatever else they may have smuggled into the assembly. As the audience arrives, make sure the administration fills in the front of the room with students before they congregate in the back.
• Keep the introduction simple. Write it down, and give it to the person who will introduce you. You also don’t want the person introducing you to give a ten-minute sermon on abstinence, which could put students on the defensive before you even speak. If you forget to do this, things can go awry. Before one of my assemblies, a principal asked, “Would all the students come sit towards the front of the chastity talk? Because, like AT&T, our speaker wants to reach out and touch you.” Needless to say, the teenage audience roared over this.
• Be available after the presentation. Ask an administrator what the students have scheduled after your presentation. If they have a break, you can mention during your talk that you are free to converse with them afterwards. Do this in a public place, where your conversation is at least visible to other adults.