Artist Seminars: artbiz speaks

“Artbiz Speaks” is an article about actually speaking, out loud, in person, in front of people giving artist seminars. Otherwise known as “public speaking”.

Yes this is about the dreaded public speaking, don’t freak out, please read on, I have a story to tell. This is about how I got over myself, out of my head, conquered my fears and into the real world.

I was asked to do a workshop / seminar for the Red Deer Arts Council on preparing for an artists online presence. My first instinct was to turn down this opportunity because…I was scared.

artist seminars I challenged that instinct.

What changed my mind was, well, one particularly profound thought occurred to me.


I believe that I have something to offer.

Working with artists and getting them on-line is what I love to do at I mean it, I really do love working with artists.

I have been working with WordPress and artist websites for 8 years. I have learnt a thing or two that every artist needs to know about creating strong content and an internet presence. I really wanted to do this!

In preparation for my big date, not only did I have to create a presentation, I had to get past my mental block on public speaking that had me literally quaking in my boots.

After all who doesn’t break out into a cold sweat with the slightest thought of public speaking?

artist seminarsI needed help. From where, from who? How do I do this? Yikes!

I found Andrea Wedell.

As well as being a fine artist, Andrea is a creativity coach. But she lives in France, what good is that?

Ha! SKYPE, Aha!

We met at 9:00 am my time, 5:00 pm her time for 4 one hour sessions where I would stand up in front of my computer and talk my talk. Andrea was my audience of one who played many parts and threw questions at me which helped me to think on my feet.

It was quite awkward at first; I was so self-conscious, felt silly talking to a web cam.  Andrea has a way about her, she put me at ease and after the first time I was actually okay. As an artist herself she could relate to what I was talking about and gave me great feedback not only on my speaking skills but on the actual content.

Andrea helped me build my confidence and realize that YES I can do this! Now I needed to get in front of people live and in person and practice, practice, practice.

I thought about going to Dale Carnegie but I live outside of Calgary and driving into the city was not, is not one of my favorite things to do. I asked my followers on Facebook for some ideas. One was Speaking Circles but there wasn’t a Canadian branch in my area.

artist seminarsI am sure you have all heard of Toast Masters, been around forever. There just so happened to be a branch in Cochrane, just down the highway and I didn’t have to drive into the city at rush hour.

I joined and booked myself to speak every week until my seminar. The people there are fantastic, supportive and were willing to give me double time in order to prepare. Having 15 minutes instead of the normal 7 minutes enabled me to take individual sections of my seminar and present them at the Toast Master meeting. The feedback came to me verbally and in writing so I could refer to the comments again later.

I was even able to use my Power Point presentation, which was a good thing to test. It turned out that I needed a new laptop in order to connect to the projector. How tragic would it have been if I showed up in Red Deer not knowing that my technology didn’t work?  It would have been a total and complete disaster. Dodged a bullet there.

The first time standing in front of an audience is really scary. My mouth went dry and my voice shook and then something delightful happened. My passion took over. You see when you are passionate about something it provides you the energy, the conviction and the confidence to carry on.

I know that I am not the perfect public speaker, that there will always be things to work on.

  • Like speaking slower
  • Trying not saying um, ah or so, so much
  • That pauses are okay
  • It’s also okay to take a sip of water
  • The audience doesn’t know that you forgot one point or another.
  • You have to have a beginning, a middle and an end
  • The audience is on your side, they actually want you to do well. After all they came there to learn something.
  • Everyone in the audience is glad it’s you up there and not them.

Since the artist seminar in Red Deer I have been asked to speak to the art students at Grande Prairie College. Which I did using an online virtual classroom from the comfort of my office. And live and in person for the Alberta Society of Artists.

I am now actively seeking other opportunities to provide artist seminars and speak about how to create a strong online presence. I don’t know if I’ll ever get totally out of my head and I still have some fear but I am doing it anyway and I’m in the real world!

So ArtBiz Speaks, live and in person (or virtually) at an art group near you, check your local listings :). If you are interested to know more about the artist seminars please contact me.

Currently I have an 1.5 hour presentation on “What YOU can do to get your art found on-line and create opportunities” and a 5 hour workshop on “Preparing for your on-line presence”.