Battenfield Workshop on Public Presentations given for the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism, May 1, 2010

Public Presentations: Are an opportunity to communicate about your work and a form of self-promotion.

It forms connections in the art world and beyond.

It can happen anywhere: Lectures about your work, introducing yourself as an artist in social situations as well at the gym, grocery store, or waiting in line.

Whether large or small you need to prepare for all public presentations. WHY? It may be the only information people carry with them about you and you work, so you want it to be good.

TIPS for Lecture/talks about your work

1. What is the nature of your presentation?
* Lecture about your work?
* About a particular aspect of your practice?
* About the exhibition of your work?
* Part of a job interview?
* Ask yourself: What do you want the audience to take away or remember about your talk?

2. What does the organization expect/ the situation demand?
* Amount of time allotted
* Size of potential audience
* How are images projected? Make sure you carry the correct cables to hook up your computer, a flash drive is a good investment.

3. Use the order of the images to slowly unfold the message you wish to impart.
* Think of it as a picture storybook with each image having a few sentences attached to it, and one following the other in an organized fashion.
* Write a script and practice it.
* One of the big mistakes it to show the first image and then launch into a lengthy talk about your background, your experience, inspiration, etc. The viewer is stuck with that image for a long time and then you rush through the others.

4. Ask those who support your work what they think are its best qualities or it’s impact so that you can begin to see your work as others experience it.

5. Do not read your script. Print it out in large type with important notes in BOLD Become comfortable with it so that you can check it while as well as make eye contact with the audience whenever possible. Do not look over their heads. Make sure you look at all areas of the audience.

TIPS for Social situations and chance encounters:

1. Develop a brief descriptive statement about yourself and your work. In advertising, it’s called the elevator pitch.  What would you say to someone about yourself and your work in a 15-second elevator ride?  Practice saying it out loud, not to memorize it, but until you are comfortable with the essence of what you wish to convey. In this statement, give just enough information so that the listener might want to follow up with a question, which can start a longer conversation. Incorporate descriptive words that will help them form a visual image in their mind about your work.

2. It takes practice!  Understand that introducing yourself and your work in a friendly way is a skill that can be developed, so be patient. Begin by practicing on friends and family and ask for feedback. They’ll point out important ideas or interesting information missing from your introduction. Then, branch out into less stressful situations before tackling the really difficult ones.

3. Role-play the conversation with a supportive person if you are going to be meeting up with someone important, a curator, dealer, etc.,

4. Give yourself meet and connect goals.  Jackie’s rule of 3

5. Have business cards with you and use them! Collect business cards from those you meet and make brief notations on the back about how you met this person, some interest they have, a mutual acquaintance, or a note to yourself regarding following up.

6. Be informed! Know the players in the art world. Do your homework. If you are going to a panel presentation, party, opening, etc. and feel there is a chance you may meet up with someone in particular– a curator, gallerist, critic, etc– google them to get more information about them beforehand. It helps to break the ice when introducing yourself to them, by asking about a recent project or commenting on something they have done.

7. Be yourself!  People appreciate honesty and sincerity. Your style of relationship building should emerge naturally from your own personality. Turn shyness into an asset by becoming a good listener. Discover interesting information about someone and follow up in a less stressful way, say with a note or email.

8. Take the time to introduce two people to each other so they can benefit from the meeting.

9. Keep your antenna up all the time. Networking can take place anywhere – in airports, elevators, coffee shops, the gym, riding the subways.  See meeting people as an opportunity to build your community.

10. Don’t Panic: Developing good relationships from an introduction may take time. Allow a deeper relationship to evolve naturally.