If you have been approached by someone to participate then…

  • Watch the video to see what an Education Session can look like.
  • Become familiar with your rights and responsibilities.
  • Reflect on what aspect of your experience of ageing you want to share? Use the reflection guide provided.
  • Talk to the organiser (and facilitator, if relevant).


Wonderful!! You have agreed to be a guest speaker

Here are some questions to guide you through your involvement in an education session.

Prepare yourself

What will you say? What parts of your story are the most important? Which parts will you intentionally leave out?

Would photos or memorabilia make your story understandable or more powerful – or help 'jog your memory'?

Have you decided what you will wear? Does it make you feel confident?

Are you empowered to say 'no comment' or 'I'm not comfortable talking about that' if there is a question in the 'no go zone'?

Organise how it will happen

Do you know when to be there and where to go? How will you get to and from the session if you need transport?

Will a support person be there with you - even just for moral support? Has your support person agreed to attend with you and do they know the details?

Have you spoken to your facilitator? Do you have their contact details?

Do you have medications with you if you need to take them while you are at the education session?

Tell other people

Have you cancelled any conflicting appointments or social events? Did you tell them you would be a guest speaker?

Does your family know you are sharing your story? Will you be talking about them?

Let your circle of friends know that you will be sharing some aspects of your story with a group of current (or future health) professionals, so they gain insight into ageing and what it's like to be an older person.

For a complete list of things to do and think about, look at the checklist.

OPTEACHers said

An older man, who has participated in a number of OPTEACH sessions with undergraduate students, shared one aspect of his experience about participating in teaching:

"You have a wealth of knowledge and you want to share it I guess, whether people want to take it on-board is another thing.  Some of the students I found receptive, some not so much, I'm not sure…but hopefully, sometimes, information gets through to the student and they take it on-board."


Now you are a guest speaker!

Here are some points to guide you through the education session.

Keep in Mind:

  • YOU are the expert on your life, your health and your story.
  • The way you conduct yourself today should convey confidence and gratitude for the opportunity to be involved in the education session.
  • The learners are different from you. They bring their own backgrounds, culture, generational influences and personalities. These differences can be strengths rather than challenges. Keep an open mind.
  • You should expect to be treated respectfully. You have rights and responsibilities as a guest speaker.

Rely on the facilitator/educator:

  • To introduce you by name or tell the learners how you would like to be addressed (e.g., Mrs, Mr, last name, or first name).
  • For a name tag for you (and possibly also the audience) to wear.
  • To watch the time or you may ask for a timekeeper in order not to go over time.
  • To have organised a microphone for use in the session, or to be prepared to repeat any questions or comments you're having trouble hearing.
  • To be in charge of the session.
  • students

During the session, focus on the following:

  • Telling your story authentically; it's perfectly fine to show emotion.
  • You're not expected to present like a professional public speaker! If you happen to have trouble remembering something or lose your train of thought, that is alright.
  • Monitor your feelings and let someone know if you would like a break, a drink of water, or to stop the session.
  • Don't be surprised by applause if it happens - but don't' expect it.
  • Enjoying yourself and having fun contributing to students' learning.

For a complete list of things to do and think about, look at the checklist.

OPTEACHers said:

A couple, one of whom has dementia, generously agreed to have their experiences captured on video to share with students.

Their comments about the experience was:

"We were aware of what was happening in regards [to] what was expected of us and we knew everything was fine.  Yeah, I knew exactly what was happening and why and then I'd explain to my husband (who has dementia) and see what he thought."

Some advice from an older woman about what she would tell anyone else interested in teaching:

"It'd always be nice to practice exactly what you're going to say but it is probably better just being yourself, I think."

Now that you have finished guest speaking

Here are some points to guide you through debriefing about the education session.


Make sure

To thank the educator for having you as a guest speaker.

You share your feelings about how things went with the facilitator or their assistant.

To honour the confidentiality of the learners by NOT mentioning any names, NOT sharing their questions or describing them in any way.

You do not share photos or the identities of the students/learners on social media.


The educator/facilitator might:

Provide you with a feedback form.

Ask for your suggestions about how the education session could have been better.

Want to know if you would do it again sometime.

Check in with your support person.

Contact you at a later date to share some of the comments/appreciations from the learners.


Things to do if the session did not go well:

Share your feelings with the educator so they are aware and can do something about it, if possible.

Consider contacting the organiser or manager of the organisation (or your residential aged care facility, if relevant) to share your feelings.

If you are distressed about what happened, then talk to a trusted family member or friend and contact a helpline (in NSW 1800 011 511) or seek professional assistance from Lifeline Australia on 131114.

For a complete list of things to do and think about, look at the checklist.

OPTEACHers said:

After Barbara contributed to an education session for undergraduate student nurses at a university, she shared her thoughts about the experience:

"Hey, you're good, you're now the educator; you're teaching these young people what life's about. It was good, a positive thing! This is their journey and now you have the opportunity to be part of their journey and you need to be acknowledged.
Not only are you valuing older people, you are recognising the value of our students and the students are our future."