Syllabus: Presenting the Paranormal to the Public

Course Description

This course presents a practical skills approach to talking/writing about psychic/paranormal topics and parapsychology.

Students will gain an understanding of the importance of writing/speaking to general and specific audiences and how to do this. Included will be an emphasis on public speaking (including overcoming any fear of speaking in public) and media (how to be a good interview subject), as well as some basic marketing and publicity skills. Students will learn the best ways to personally come across credibly, to present the topics in an understandable way, and in a way that creates a positive impact.

Whether you are planning to write a book or articles or speak/lecture to general or paranormal-interested audiences, or even teach workshops, this course will provide the “how to” skills you’ll need to be understood and appreciated by your audiences. While the emphasis will be on psi-related topics, these skills will serve you well in a variety of contexts (maybe even your “real” jobs).

Course Outline

  • Presenting the Paranormal to the Public

    1. How to Sound (and Be) Credible When Talking About the Paranormal

      • Credibility – What does that mean?
      • What does being an expert on the paranormal actually mean, and can you be one?
      • Who are you speaking to/writing for? (Identifying the Audience)
      • Jargon/Language around the paranormal, psychic, New Age, and related phenomena, experiences, beliefs, and practice
      • How to be understood by your Audience while sounding credible (and being credible): Translating jargon into appropriate language
      • Credible communication: language, knowledge, and the ability and willingness to refer to others
    2. Speaking/Lecturing/Teaching About the Paranormal

      • The importance of Public Speaking/Presentation Skills in general
      • How to Be a Good Speaker (The Speak As Yourself Method)
      • Public Speaking vs. Teaching
      • Presenting the Paranormal in spoken word
      • How NOT to be Boring
      • Dealing with Q & A
      • Reflecting on the Importance of Humor
      • Speaking to a professional audience (like a conference presentation including researchers)
    3. How to Handle Being Interviewed

      • General Good Media Skills (being a good interview subject)
      • Live vs. Recorded interviews
      • Being interviewed for TV, video, and video-enabled podcasts
      • Being interviewed for radio and podcasts
      • Being interviewed for print/written articles
      • Stories/Anecdotes
      • Dealing with Pseudo-Skeptics, Skeptics, and True Believers
    4. Writing and Promoting the Paranormal (and other stuff)

      • Making your writing about the Paranormal credible, interesting, and understood
      • Promotion: Traditional Media, Social Media, and other Opportunities
      • Are you promoting a subject, a project, an organization, yourself? All of the above?
      • The importance of being knowledgeable vs. personal branding
      • The importance of being a resource for Media and others in promotion
      • Who are YOU in relation to the Paranormal?
      • How do you want to be seen?
      • Presenting the Paranormal – and Yourself – A Summary

Course Materials

Suggested Readings:

There is no specific text for this class, however, students will be provided with short readings or videos which will help them to better understand content of the lectures.

Course Activities

  • Students will be expected to view the class broadcasts or the recordings of the classes each week.
  • Students will be expected to participate in weekly discussion forums and activities. Each student will be expected to provide an original posting each week and to respond to at least one other student in the discussion forums. Greater participation in this area will be considered during class evaluations.
  • A Final Project will be required to pass the course, details regarding due date and length to be discussed in class:

    A detailed assessment/critique of one or more paranormal authors/experts’ appearances (lecture) or interviews (video such as YouTube, podcast or lengthy radio interview) - lecture or interview should be minimum 30 minutes. Assess how well they:

    • made psychic/paranormal phenomena concepts and terminology understandable
    • did as a speaker/presenter or teacher
    • credibility based on their delivery, appearance, voice, etc.


Evaluations and Grading

Students who are taking the course for a grade will be assessed based on thier participation and performance on the assigments.

Participation in the forums is a large component of the grading, and substantive postings are necessary to get full credit for each discussion topic.

The following activities will be considered to contribute to the courses as follows:

Discussions (Total 40%): 10 points for each of the 4 weeks including responses to other people's posts

Final Project (60%)