Interpretation for Archeologists   7. Use What You Know   Distance Learning

Use What You Know

Use the tools and techniques from this guide to draft a pitch for an interpretive product. A pitch lays out the framework for a project or product. An effective pitch is prepared for a specific audience; identifies a problem or issue and meets a management need; and proposes a set of next steps.

For Your Information

Before getting started, refresh your answers to the Use What You Know questions from previous sections. The questions are:

  • What is your experience in interpreting archeology to the public? What do you hope to gain from this guide?
  • Write answers to these questions: What is interpretation? Why does the NPS interpret archeology? What are the goals for interpretation? Now add “at your site” to the end of each question and re-answer them. In what ways does or doesn’t your park meet the definitions and purposes for interpretation?
  • Identify an interpretive service at your park. Is it a personal or a nonpersonal interpretive service? What involvement techniques are used?
  • Review the tools discussed in the Tools for Interpreters section. Which are most useful to you? Why?
  • Choose a controversial topic at your park that the archeological perspective may enhance. Use the interpretive equation and the interpretive process model to outline a strategy. List audiences, multiple perspectives, multiple resources, and possible approaches. Imagine the responses and write out answers to visitors who challenge the approach of multiple perspectives on controversial material.
  • What sensitive issues impact interpretation at your park? How might you use archeology to address a history of sensitive issues?


Review: What is interpretation?, Why does the NPS interpret archeology?, and Personal and professional responsibilities

Establish the groundwork for the pitch:

  • Identify the interpretive project and the story to be told.
  • Ascertain the audience for the pitch.
  • Answer why the project is beneficial and important.

Build a Framework

Review: Interpretive Equation, Thematic Interpretation, and Interpretive Process Model, Issues of sensitivity, and Promoting archeological stewardship

  • Identify the topic of the story.
  • Building on the topic, write a one-sentence theme statement for your story.
  • Decide on the primary and secondary audiences for the product. Imagine a scenario for the audiences to encounter the interpretive product.
  • List ways that the resource is meaningful and relevant.
  • Choose interpretive methods.
  • Draft a three-sentence narrative arc to organize the story.
    1. Set the scene, introduce the characters, the setting and a conflict or "hook." (Example: It's 1607, and John Smith has stepped foot in the New World for the first time."
    2. Develop how your characters grow and change due to conflict, challenges and circumstances. (Example: Smith learns that Jamestown Island already has inhabitants - and that he must mind their ways.)
    3. Sum up the story by showing how the characters resolve the conflict. Reinforce the theme. (Example: Without archeology, we wouldn't fully know the ways that Smith created personal and economic relationships with Native Americans.)

Open the Door to Collaboration

Think about next steps to carry out the interpretive project.

  • List ways to tell the story from different perspectives. Explore some of the biases of the story. Consider if the interpretive product might not be accessible to all audiences in the same way.
  • Consider different moods and styles for telling the story.
  • Brainstorm ways that different audiences might receive the story. Consider sensitive or controversial issues, or untold stories. Think about the language and terms to be used.
  • Discuss details, such as who would develop and complete the project, funding, location, timing.
  • Identify partners, including other division staff and local partner groups.

Try It Yourself

Write out your pitch, practice it, then give it a go!