My second year students at The Univerisity of the West of England are currently preparing for their presentations. I am hoping that their confidence will grow as they break through some pain barriers. Don't be shy - let people see who you are and what you do. Here are some hot tips for artists and creative people who are going to talk about their work:

Artist presentations at The Open West, Gloucester Cathedral, 2011

Artist presentations at The Open West, Gloucester Cathedral, 2011

 

A guide to delivering a presentation about yourself and your work

My second year students at The Univerisity of the West of England are currently preparing for their presentations. I am hoping that their confidence will grow as they break through some pain barriers. Don't be shy - let people see who you are and what you do. Here are some hot tips for artists and creative people who are going to talk about their work:

 

1. Get the content right for the audience - make sure that you show some empathy and vary the content according to the people you are addressing. Who are you talking to? It could be anything from a Women's Institute meeting to curators and professionals at a local Arts Centre.

 

2. Choose the right style for the size of audience
Up to 8 people – choose an informal style alongside your visual aids, e.g. sitting at a table. Establish relationships immediately. Engage with each individual.


Between 9 and 30 – choose a more formal style, but you can still establish a relationship. Stand up and use plenty of visual aids.


Between 30 and 100 – you will need good presentation aids and a more formal style. It will be difficult to engage with individuals. You may need a microphone.


Over 100 – this is a theatre-style presentation. You will be on stage and probably be performing with a P.A. system. Facial gestures and body language will need to be exaggerated for effect.

 

3. Check the venue – do a last minute check on equipment, projector, laptop, microphone, P.A. system, seating arrangements. Who will introduce you? Is there a glass of water handy?

 

4. Check your appearance – make sure your appearance doesn’t distract from the presentation – clothes and hair are neat and tidy, and appropriate for the type of presentation.

 

5. Establish your presence – once you have been introduced, pause and take a deep breath. Look at the audience, make eye contact and smile.  Relax your body but stand tall.

 

6. Establish your credentials – explain why you are there and identify your background, education, knowledge and experience. Tell your audience what you are going to be talking about.

 

7. Involve your audience – get their attention early on. Try using an interesting visual aid or something unexpected. Ask a question. Say something that shows you understand their concerns or their expectations.

 

8. Let your personality show through – in a presentation, feelings carry as much, if not more, weight than facts. Show your genuine conviction, emotion or enthusiasm. This will help to overcome stage fright.

 

9. Use positive body language – stand tall but try to remain relaxed. Try not to fiddle with hair, jewellery or clothing. Use your hands for emphasis and remember to smile!

 

10. Use your voice effectively – stand tall and breathe deeply to project your voice.  Speak clearly and more slowly than usual. Speak naturally and try to avoid ‘um’ or ‘er’.

 

11. Humour – only use it to support your point, and not just for effect. Never use humour that could offend. If you make a mistake, the audience will remember how you handled it. Acknowledge a mistake and make light of it through humour.

 

12  Improvise – be prepared to make changes as you go along, depending on the mood and atmosphere. If you feel the audience is losing interest, move on to something new. Where they show real interest, develop that section further.

 

13. Add variety – vary the timing and pitch of your voice. Speed up or slow down and change the tone. Emphasise points with stronger effect. Make pauses to give your audience time to reflect.

 

14. Use audio visual aids – use quality photographs of your own work and the works that have inspired you. Make sure that you caption and credit every image in a professional manner: title, date, medium, size as standard.

 

15. Conclusion – summarise what you have been through. End on a high in tone, energy and content. Leave your audience wanting more. Always refer to your publicity material and encourage them to take something away with them.

 

16. Question time – be positive and encourage questions. Repeat the question so that everyone hears it. Admit if you don’t know the answer but promise to find out and get back to them. Defer questions you can’t deal with during your talk until later.

 

Dos and don’ts

DO:
•    Be yourself – allow your personality to show through.
•    Start and finish on time and allow time for questions.
•    Use hand outs to convey complex ideas.
•    Keep to the point.

DON’T:
•    Try to cover too much and end up rushing to fit it all in.
•    Use humour inappropriately.
•    Use too many visual aids that just repeat what you have just said.

 

© Tessa Webb

www.creativesintobusiness.com