people experience the real you
public with your work
thoughts of 11th-grade speech class run through your head whenever
you think of speaking in public?
Even with a master's degree in theater, 20 years of
teaching and hundreds of workshops in my past, I still avoid anything
that reminds me of persuasive speaking. But if you're serious about
your work there comes a time when you must share what you do with
Whether you're pitching your artwork to a gallery,
promoting your designs or gaining recognition as an artist, it's
vital that you build a public presence.
No matter the venue, I suggest you begin by asking:
| Who do I want to connect with?
What can I offer to improve someone's business or enrich
How do others like to learn?
How can I use my style to engage a specific audience?
More than ever, the options of "going public" have expanded
to include in-person connections as well as cyberspace interactions.
By taking the time to answer these questions you can be ready to
1) Design an event that highlights your strengths in a style
others will enjoy.
If you enjoy lecturing, great! If not, create a cyber slideshow.
Partner with a nonprofit to show your work and invite key referral
partners to the event. Host an interactive evening that allows people
to experience your work. Offer a class through a community education
program. Lead a teleclass by phone. Create a blog. Ask a public
speaker who loves your designs to wear your clothes.
The options are endless. What's key is that you align your style
with the interest and needs of your clientele. And remember, it's
not a one-hit deal, but an ongoing approach for exposing others
to the power of your work. Each experience will allow you to fine-tune
2) Design the content to suit your intended outcome.
How do you want the event to change people's lives? What do you
want them to know about you and your work?
These questions will help you stay focused as you plan your pitch.
In fact, I often design my content or experience with one or two
specific people in mind. Why? It focuses my attention on their life
concerns and pushes me to provide tangible, applicable outcomes.
3) Set the stage.
This is one of the most overlooked aspects of public outreach. An
inviting, stimulating environment creates a context for your work
before you even begin.
Choose visuals, audio or sensory experiences that are inviting
and intriguing. Gallery owners get dozens of submissions a week.
How will yours stand out?
Bring people in. You need to leave any timidity at the door!
If you are using chairs, arrange them to minimize distance and maximize
connection. If you are communicating via phone or e-mail, set the
tone by engaging your audience quickly in the purpose of the conversation.
Have informative materials available on site or via the
Internet. Articles by and about you increase your credibility and
let people know more about your expertise.
4) Create materials that support the event.
For interactive seminars or workshops, I create a workbook or journal.
For collaborative events, a program with bios of each participant
is extremely helpful. If you don't have materials, take a moment
to provide an overview. The more unusual your presentation, the
more important it is to clarify the parameters.
Give people the assurance that there is a structure so they can
relax, enjoy and connect. The added benefit with print materials:
people leave with a memorable take-away that they can refer back
to or share with others.
5) Finally and most importantly connect!
Be curious and find out about your audience. What are their interests?
Why are they listening to you? Tailor your presentation to their
life. Share stories that show how you've used these concepts in
your own life. Let people see your vulnerabilities, then match it
with your expertise. That's how people begin to trust that you are
like them and that you have something to enhance their life.
It all comes down to daring to share yourself, your work, your
expertise and your desire to pass on something valuable to others.
Choosing a format that puts you at ease will allow you to
relax and connect in ways that are dynamic and engaging.
Make it fun and meaningful. In the end, you'll increase your public
visibility, credibility and, ultimately, the value of your work.