For artists and makers, an invitation to give a presentation about their work provides a fantastic opportunity to reach a new audience. After all, aren't you the world wide expert on your work? Yet, time and again, artist lectures too often turn out to be 45 minutes of tedium.
My own fear of such a fate causes me to constantly seek out and read books or guides for tips to improve my presentation content and presentation skills. While there is no substitute for practice, a superb book on this topic recently came to my attention. How to Be a Presentation God brings the expert perspective of Scott Schwertly offering his "no excuses" outlook on creativity. And gaining insight into creativity is always inspiring for the artist inside us all.
Schwertly's website Ethos3 is definitely worth a look, especially the remarkable presentation using what they call Motion Design. Once you start watching, it is impossible to stop watching. Click on the video below.
I'd like to share a few paragraphs from his book and hope that it might inspire you to either read the book or take the philosophy back to your studio.
"The first ideas that come to your head are most likely the easiest, most conventional, and the most boring ideas you will have." "Your brain will sabotage your efforts at brilliance by attempting to find the easiest, most accessible solution for any problem it is faced with."
"A great way to hurdle this unfortunate mental obstacle is to begin every brainstorming session thinking about what not to do. Work with partners to determine what is cliché, what is expected, what has been heard over and over and over and over again. Record these ideas and you'll begin to find the empty space- the place where you have an opportunity to approach the topic from a fresh angle, Introduce a new idea, or catch your audience off-guard. Accomplishing a sense of originality is like putting a massive sail on the canoe of your presentation. It will take you further than even your hardest work." (Page 69, 71)
I think this idea from Schwerty applies to both work in the studio and for presentations. For example, I took a bold risk for a lecture at the Matrilineage series of lectures for Syracuse University. I gave my entire lecture while standing at an ironing board ironing on stage. Seven years later, I met a young woman who introduced herself to me as a student in the audience. She said it was the only artist's lecture she remembered in the four years of art school.
Moving on... to a comment about creativity that I thought was worth noting from Schwertly: "Contrary to popular belief, creativity is both culture and practice; it is not a gift that some people just have and others don't." page 71
For me, one of the top "lecture sins" is when the speaker does not connect with the audience. For example, I sometimes get the feeling that the speaker is trying to prove how smart they are. In such cases, a comment from Scott Schwertly comes to mind -- "My mission when on stage is not to stun the audience with illustrious vocabulary and capacity for arcane bits of knowledge. It is to efficiently transmit a valuable concept or idea to their heads with as little interference as possible. If a 10-year-old can't follow me, then an adult whose attention is split between his or her Blackberry and my voice can't either." Page 74
It is super interesting that the author separates creativity and execution. "Creativity is about solving a problem; ...Execution is the sterile, technical implementation of your creative ideas." (page 133)
Grap the book and read more...
Links to Amazon are affiliate links that may provide this blog with a few cents to cover expenses. Your support is much appreciated.