2020 Convention News

Tips for Writing Attention-Grabbing Session Descriptions

Volume 47 Issue 6, pp. 31–32

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The primary goal in giving a presentation at the NASP convention is to share a particular aspect of your knowledge with fellow school psychologists. This requires that people show up at the presentation. There are typically more than 1,000 presentations and workshops at a NASP convention. The competition for attention is pretty high.

How you write your session title and description can be the difference between grabbing people's attention and not. This is true for both the online abstract (75 words) and the session description for the printed program (30 words). Following are a few tips.

  • Appeal to the WIIFM (What's in It for Me) mindset. Time is precious to school psychologists. Highlight how the presentation will help them do their job better.
  • Make the learning objectives useful. See “Tips for Writing Effective Learning Objectives.”
  • Be a problem solver. Most convention sessions address a problem or challenge and what works to address it. Use your description to help readers connect to the problem (That sounds familiar!) and want the solution (Sounds interesting; I should check it out).
  • Set accurate expectations. Make sure the description describes what the session will really cover. If you are only covering the research identifying a problem, don't promise in the description to discuss effective approaches to addressing it (despite what it says above).
  • Appeal to people's purpose. Improving outcomes for kids is the point of our work. Don't talk around this but rather point right to it, even if the focus of the presentation is on affecting the context (e.g., school climate) and people (e.g., teachers) within it who are affecting the kids.
  • Ditch the filler words and phrases. You can skip phrases like, “In this presentation, presenters will….” Get right to the meat of the session content.
  • Do not repeat yourself. Often presenters simply rewrite the same idea a few different ways without imparting new information. Writing the same idea in a different form does not provide people with more helpful information. It won't make your session sound more compelling and only wastes space.
  • Get active. Use active tense. “Strategies to improve student behavior will be examined.” NO. “Learn strategies to improve student behavior.” YES.
  • Spend some time on the title. This is your lead—the idea that will grab people's attention from the get-go and maybe the only thing people read. Think about what matters to your potential attendees, not just the topic itself. The title should convey relevance, usefulness, and specificity.


  1. Classic Description (too long and, well, um, Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz):

    What the Research Says About Fidelity in Teacher-Delivered Brief Interventions

    In order to explore factors related to successful implementation of brief academic interventions, a study was conducted to examine the trends and reactions of general education teachers toward adapting instruction and providing individualized strategies for students and their perceptions of success. The study is unique in that it assessed the attitude of teachers regarding brief interventions for students across a variety of academic needs, how they approached providing those interventions, and how successful the interventions were. The study also looked at how teacher perceptions either facilitated or impeded effective intervention delivery and what factors might lower barriers to teacher engagement in the process. The presentation will report the results of the study as well as discuss implications for school psychologists who desire to improve their use of brief interventions by teachers in their schools.

  2. Better (a little punchier and 30 words):

    A Research-Based Approach to Improving Teachers' Delivery of Brief Interventions

    Using presentation and discussion methods, this workshop will address strategies to address the major issues that interfere with teachers' ability to deliver brief academic interventions and monitor progress with efficacy.

  3. On Point (brief 30 words, value focused, and action/outcomes oriented):

    Getting It Done Right: Making Brief Interventions Work for Teachers

    Helping teachers more effectively deliver and adapt brief academic interventions is critical to improving student outcomes. Learn common barriers and how to share simple strategies that busy teachers can successfully employ.