National Park Service
US Department of the Interior
National Park Service
Interpretive Development Program

Interpretive Talk

Benchmark Competency Description

The Interpretive Talk is a prepared formal presentation delivered in-person, usually to a stationary audience. The interpretive talk provides a basic format for presenting audiences with opportunities to form their own intellectual and emotional connections with the meanings of a resource, without relying on a strong integration of media, demonstration, or resource immersion. Resource meanings may focus on the personal relevance or the national significance of a site and help guide the visitor towards an understanding or empathy regarding the importance of a place, object, person, or event.

Preparing and presenting an effective interpretive talk requires interpreters to blend specific subject-matter knowledge of the resource with an understanding of audience learning styles, needs, and motivations. It requires the deliberate selection of audience-appropriate techniques to provide opportunities for intellectual and emotional connections to resource meanings. These opportunities are arranged to give a clear focus to the talk by logically developing, illuminating, and exploring an idea(s) relevant to the audience. Finally, for the interpretive talk to be effective, appropriate presentation techniques, delivery skills, and subject matter accuracy must be applied.

Competency Standard

All Interpreters:

  • Acquire and use information that is accurate and based on up-to-date scholarship to support and articulate appropriate park themes, goals, and objectives
  • Use knowledge about park resources and park audiences to develop and present opportunities for the audience to form their own intellectual and emotional connections to the resource meanings
  • Select and apply techniques appropriate for the audience, the resource, and the interpreter
  • Engage and interact with the audience, adjusting the talk to offer opportunities for connections based on emerging audience needs and circumstances
  • Provide a clear focus for the audience to connect to the personal relevance and national significance of the site by cohesively developing a relevant idea(s) that is more than a series of related facts or a chronology
  • Demonstrate solid presentation and delivery skills
  • Seek feedback and self-assess to improve program effectiveness