Tips for artist talks

As part of my upcoming exhibition which opens on June 12th, I am giving an artist talk on the day after the opening (June 13th).  For me, public presentations are not usually something that make me nervous as when I was working in my day job, I did a lot of public speaking at a variety of levels.


 I believe that if you comfortable with your subject, talking about becomes easier.  And for an artist, talking about their art comes naturally, or should!

To keep audience attention in any talk the following points should be kept in mind:

  1. Know your subject inside out.  If you are not familiar with a section, practice it until you are.  If you don't know your subject, it will show as you "umm" and "errr" your way through it.
  2. Speak in layman terms about your art.   While "art speak" may be the norm in some presentations about art creation, it does confuse listeners, even if they are artists themselves.  Explain what you created and why in as plain language as possible.
  3. Inject a little humour into the talk.   Making people smile at the beginning of a talk sets the tone for the session.  Keep it general public appropriate, you don't know who will be in your audience and you do not want to offend anyone.
  4. Have a logical sequence, don't jump all over the place.  Have a start, middle and end so there is a flow to the talk.  Give an introduction at the beginning outlining what you'll be talking about before getting into the presentation itself.
  5. Use visuals.  You're an artist, of course you'll have visuals!  Visuals keep people interested where words don't, so sprinkle them liberally throughout the talk but make them relevant.
  6. Keep questions til the end of the talk.  Questions that randomly pop up make you lose your train of thought and interrupt the concentration of others who are present.
  7. Keep to the time allotted.  Stay within the time frame for the talk.  People have lives and places to go.  Anything over an hour and an audience becomes fidgety unless you are absolutely rivetting in your talk.
  8. Thank your hosts, sponsors and those attending.  These people are the reason you are here.  Thank them warmly and genuinely.
  9. Mingle after the talk for those back room questions.  Often after the talk, more questions arise.  With your coffee or glass of wine, talk informally with people.  Seek out quiet people and make a point of speaking with them.  Don't be monopolized by any one person.
  10. Have lots of business cards available.  Provide business cards on a side table before and after the talk as well as have some in a pocket to provide to individuals you speak with.
Source : illustratedlife[dot]blogspot[dot]com
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