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John Dahlsen Inspirational Public Speaker on Environment and Art


'John Dahlsen’s art provides a valid commentary on our wasteful, throwaway society and his lively speaking presentation challenges people to think about how they can make a difference to our environment.'

Kim McKay, AO, environmental campaigner & author; Co-founder Clean Up Australia & Clean Up the World.

‘John’s words and images drew them into his world and inspired each person to care deeply about this world we share…..
John Dahlsen’s insightful work is an inspiration to all who care about our world, and all who learn to care, as they view his art and hear his words. We were thrilled to have met and learned so much from this distinguished artist.’

Suzanne Starr Art Educator and North Stonington Education Board Member Connecticut USA.

“Dahlsen will be an asset to any visual arts lecture circuit he participates in, especially as an Australian artist bringing his unique story to an international stage.

Dee Tipping FEHVA visual arts festival 2004-2008.

“He is a dynamic and riveting speaker who instinctively knows how to reach his audience.
His presentation of his work was humorous, insightful, and powerful. Those who attended spoke about their positive responses long after he left.

Alice Wexler, Ed.D. Associate Professor SUNY New Paltz New York.

‘John Dahlsen embodies the spirit of all Australians who love our coastline. His contemporary work is the very core of what makes ‘Clean Up’ an important community event in our nation.
His concepts are abstract and imaginative and he has turned the flotsam and jetsam washed up on our beaches into highly collectable art.’

Ian Kiernan, AO, Chairman and Founder Clean Up Australia & Clean Up The World.

‘The power of Dahlsen’s work lies in the artist’s abilities to witness the beauty in the every day and the mundane. However, it is his history as a painter that gives him the ability to see the objects he collects in their purest form, that is the shape and color.’

Brett Adlington, Curator, Exhibitions and Collections. Gold Coast City Art Gallery QLD.

‘Years of abstract/figurative painting… inspired by living organic forms often monochromatic, smoothed transition to his present exhibition of works.…
His flotsam collection acquired at the same time as his driftwood evolved into a further dramatic phase...
‘Contemporary Landscapes’ his mammoth task – afforded him a freedom to demonstrate aesthetic possibilities which radiate vitality and joie de vivre, uncommon to most artists deeply conscious of environmental issues’.

Review of ‘Contemporary Landscapes’ exhibition by the respected critic/artist and trustee of the Queensland Art Gallery, Catharina Hampson.

‘The successful artistic expression of an abstruse concept such as universality is difficult to achieve, but ultimately rewards both artist and viewer.
It is what lies beyond the boundaries of abstraction and figuration that intrigues John Dahlsen and he has developed a unique visual language to articulate this.
Dahlsen has only arrived at this crucial stage in his work after a course of exploration, both in a personal and artistic sense….’

Sandra Murray: Director - Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, University of Western Australia.

"John has been working on a very successful new body of work that extends from his previous enviro-sculptures into paintings. They are of the places he has collected detritus for his sculptures. The subject matter also happens to be Byron Bay, a place of infinite beauty and great affection. “

Steven Alderton, - Director of the Lismore Regional Art Gallery NSW Australia.

‘Few could have predicted that Australian artist John Dahlsen would have transitioned from representational painting to abstract painting and finally, for the last decade, to found object work — not even the artist himself.
Yet today, the mixed-media/assemblage sculpturist is one of the most recognized and awarded environmental artists in the world.’

Kim Hall, Florida artist - Editor New York Art Calendar Magazine.

‘Dahlsen, is an optimist. To begin with, he’s already made a positive statement by clearing off the unsightly stuff that is lethal to fish and fowl. (Australia’s wildlife conservancies adore Dahlsen’s work.)
Piling up black combs, disposable razors and pieces of rope yielded a Louise Nevelson-like sculpture with attitude.’

John T. Spike - Director of the Florence International Biennial of Contemporary Art.

‘Your work has had a profound effect on me since I discovered it for the first time at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney 3 years ago.
.  The totems stopped me in my tracks, I felt the impact of your art in my mind and in my heart.  Not only were they beautiful, they had a strong message to awaken the consciousness of the "asleep" This filled me with inspiration, It was then that I realized I could make art that would be able to shift consciousness to a deeper place.’

Alison Laird Kapiti Coast NZ

‘The saying goes “ I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like. In my case, I don’t know much about art and I don’t know what I like". But in John’s case I do. I think it is one of the most original forms of Australian art that I’ve ever seen and it gives me a great deal of pleasure, if it needs any sort of endorsement, to add to it by telling people, it’s art well worth viewing, well worth buying, well worth hanging.

I think we are going to hear a lot more about John Dahlsen, whether it’s as an artist or an assembler or whatever form he takes in his next artistic stage. I’m quite sure we are going to be able to enjoy his work for a long long time. I think he is an artist of considerable note already and whose recognition is going to become greater and greater as the years go by’.

George Negus. Officially opening John Dahlsen’s exhibition "New Assemblages and Prints" in Coffs Harbour Australia.



John Dahlsen is an established professional and an expert in his given field, being a notable environmental artist, educator and motivational speaker.

John delivers a message that can educate, inspire and motivate audiences around the world.

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John Dahlsen Public Speaker

John regularly gives keynote speeches on the positive effect his environmental art can have on our perceptions.

He delivers these seminars with a talk on environmental art with images of his own work spanning 30 years and elaborates on the transformative possibilities he shows by example in his work.

His target audiences range from participants in seminars and environmental symposium events and at corporate functions, to universities, exhibition openings and embassy events. John also regularly delivers talks at his various exhibitions.

He delivers these seminars for various timeframes, from 30 minutes to one and a half hours, depending on the target audience.

The speaking engagements are delivered with both Power Point and DVD presentations and involve an introduction about himself and some basics about his history as an artist and onto discussion about the importance of art and ecological awareness bringing about positive perceptual shifts. This leads into a PowerPoint presentation, where he projects various powerful art images.

Depending on the length andthe exact nature of the presentation, this can amount to anywhere between 50 to 100 images, followed by a question and answer discussion. During image projections, John focus’s on the visuals of around eight main aspects of this environmental artwork. He encourages audience participation in the form of question and answers in all of his speeches.

John has spoken to groups of people ranging in size from 30 - 3,000.


‘Public speaking has developed for me as a natural extension with my work as an environmental artist. I love to deliver keynote-speaking addresses to audiences worldwide.

My many years in the past as an educator have aided this, with my lecturing at both the university and secondary level. Invitations to speak publicly are common for me these days, which I enjoy. I love to travel, plus I believe the effect I have on my audience far outreaches the carbon footprint I’m making with the travel component of giving these lectures.

I’m very fortunate as well to connect with people on such an intimate way in these talks, as evidenced by how I regularly receive e-mails for long afterwards from around the globe by people who have been touched by one of my lectures.’


Public speaking

John Dahlsen is a renowned contemporary environmental artist and public speaker based in Byron Bay Australia.

John was educated at the Victorian College of the Arts and the Melbourne College of Advanced Education.

He exhibits regularly in Australian capital cities, throughout regional Australia, and internationally in Europe and the US, where he shows regularly in New York.

He won Australia’s oldest art award, the prestigious Wynne Prize, at the Art Gallery of NSW in 2000 and was again a finalist in 2003 and 2004. In 2006 he was also a finalist in the Sulman Award at the Art Gallery of NSW.

He was runner up in “The Signature Of Sydney Prize” in 2006 and won a prestigious award for mixed media/new media at the Florence Biennale of Contemporary Art in 2003.

John has lectured at various universities and secondary schools from 1980 – 2013. He has been an invited speaker at architectural and environmental symposiums in Australia and internationally, including at the Australian Embassy in Washington DC, which coincided with an exhibition of his work there in 1999.

In 2004, John became the first Australian artist, (he joins such renowned artists as Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Francesco Clemente and Damien Hirst) to be commissioned by global vodka producer Absolut, to create a major public artwork “Absolut Dahlsen”.

In 2005, he curated as well as participated in an exhibition at the Samuel Dorsky Museum, in New York State in the USA; he also took up an artist in residence position in Jefferson City Missouri, USA in September 2005, where he made a public artwork for their sculpture walk.

In November/December 2007 John’s work was exhibited in New York in an exhibition titled “Ecological Integrity / On The Brink”. John gave a keynote speech and exhibited his work in Connecticut USA in March 2008, where he was an invited guest of the North Stonington Education Foundation, to work with students and to deliver a lecture at Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration Mystic Connecticut USA.

He was a cultural ambassador for Australia, when he exhibited his work at the Athens Olympics of Visual Arts Exhibition in 2004 during the Olympics.  John is represented by major public and private collections in Australia, Europe, the USA and Japan.

In September 2008 he exhibited at the Jenolan Caves Trust NSW, in the "Treasures of Seeds" Exhibition. Supporting the Global Crop Diversity Trust. In August/September 2009, he exhibited again with the "Treasures of Seeds" Exhibition at the CSIRO in Canberra.

John is represented by major public and private collections across Australia, he is also in many International collections in Europe, USA and Japan. He and his art has been written about in all the major newspapers and many magazines in the form of critiques and as articles and pictorials. Radio, television and the internet, frequently interview him about exhibitions and his work as a contemporary environmental artist.

John was awarded in 2009, the Swell Sculpture Exhibition "Environmental Art Award", Currumbin, Gold Coast, QLD, Australia. He went on to win this prize again in September 2010.

In July 2010, he won the Peoples Choice Award in the ArtsCape Biennial Sculpture Exhibition. Byron Bay, NSW Australia.

In September 2010 John's work featured at the famed "Hanmo Gallery" in Beijing's 798 contemporary art district in China.

March 2011 saw John being commissioned by the Commonwealth Bank to create a major sculpture for their new HQ, from objects collected from the annual Clean up Australia campaign in Sydney.

John was appointed " Cultural Ambassador" for Friends of the United Nations, on World Environment Day June 6th 2011.

He was invited in 2012 by the United Nations to write an essay for the Rio+20 conference. Dahlsen’s essay, titled “The Future we want” appears on the UN website for the Rio+20 conference. And can be seen here:

The following links give you an idea of the imagery he projects during the talks:

Environmental Art Wallworks
Environmental Art Totems
Recycled Plastic Bags Works
Environmental Photography
Environmental Driftwood Art
Installation Art
Commission Art

Environmental Art Purges

The work with paintings and driftwood sculptures can be seen here:

Environmental Paintings Driftwood Sculptures

The following is a small selection of John Dahlsen's public lectures and appearances:

2011 - Waves of Change Lecture ASREAP Conference Sunshine Coast QLD July 21
2008 - Public Lecture as guest of the North Stonington Education Foundation:
Mystic Connecticut 17 March 2008
2008 - FEVHA 48 Hrs of Visual arts Guest speaker
2006 - Ethos Foundation "Courageous Conversation"
Science and Art Catalyst Presenter Aug 31 Binna Burra QLD
2005 - Samuel Dorsky Museum New York Guest Artist/Curator lecture
2005 - Tweed Regional Art Gallery public programmes lectures
2005 - FEVHA 48 Hrs of Visual arts Guest speaker
2004 - FEVHA 48 Hrs of Visual arts Guest speaker
2003 - Coffs Harbour Regional Art Gallery Invitation Panel.
Discussion on John Dahlsen's Found Object Art
2001 - Gold Coast City Art Gallery- Official opening lecture- "Energies "
2001 - Piece Gallery Northern NSW -Official gallery opening lecture
2000 - Manly Art Gallery - Official opening lecture- "Reclaimed Exhibition"
2000 - Architecture 2000 R.A.I.A. Sydney -"Artistically interpreting science"
1999 - Australian Embassy, Washington DC, USA "Art and the Environment"
1990 - 2013 Lectured and appeared at various Australian and International secondary and tertiary institutions as well as giving artist talks in Australian Regional Galleries as an invited artist.

DVD Presentations:

During John's keynote speeches he often shows a selection of DVD's

One is an interview and survey of his work tracing the past 15 years or so, and runs for approximately 10 minutes. See here.

Another, which documents the production of his well known Absolut commission. This DVD runs for 30 minutes and is sometimes shown in segments.

He has another DVD which is a 6 part presentation of various aspects of his work.
Titled "Renewed" this is also presented if time permits, in small segments.

For further information about fee schedules for lecture appearences please contact the artist directly:

John Dahlsen
PO Box 897, Byron Bay
NSW 2481, Australia

Mob: +61 (0)411 - 705313

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Speech Topics:

Embracing Shifting Perceptions (Keynote)
At the core of John Dahlsen’s message about shifting perceptions is the evidence in his own work how this can occur with minimal effort, that shifting perceptions in response to change in life is inevitable and good...

From Ordinary to Extraordinary  (Keynote)
John Dahlsen is proof that ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things if they follow a few simple steps. John is funny, direct and on target. He’s on a mission to inspire and equip people to think differently...

Inspiration Overcoming Adversity (Keynote)
John Dahlsen has faced numerous obstacles during his extraordinary life and in this very personal speech he talks candidly about some of his biggest challenges….

Sailing the Seas of Change (Keynote)
"It is not the strongest of the species that survives nor the most intelligent, but the one most adaptable to change.” Charles Darwin The famous adage says: “change is the only constant”.  John Dahlsen describes his journeys inherent...

My Road to an Authentic Life (Keynote)
John Dahlsen describes himself as a born solitary person and on the other a chameleon, for he also saw himself as a people pleaser. When his seeming inability to please everyone through his creativity caused him to reassess his priorities, his life transformed...

Risk and Self Discovery (Keynote)
John Dahlsen says that on the first day of his discovery of working with environmental issues in his work, it was as if all doors suddenly swung open....

The Age of Change (Keynote)
At the core of John Dahlsen’s message about embracing change is the claim that the continued acceleration of change in life is inevitable. If we cannot stop it, perhaps we should embrace it and consider putting it to our benefit...

Self-Confidence...Finding It & Living It (Keynote)
John Dahlsen's objective is to motivate people to make changes that will better their lives and above all to believe in themselves, he does this through his simple tale of his own life affirmative decisions in his creativity...

The Power of Commitment (Keynote)
John Dahlsen will help you to find out what is preventing you from responding to life, with awareness and creativity...

The Manifestation of Vision (Keynote)
Success is the most sought-after necessity of individuals and organizations. John's personal story about his own success in the unlikely field of art is an example for us all.

Building and Sustaining Success (Keynote)
John Dahlsen will propel us to understanding how to get to the top of the world’s most challenging occupations! It’s no wonder that he has such an individual story to tell...
The Power to Survive through Inspiration (Keynote)
In the midst of a stalling career, after a tragic plane accident of one of his friends, he has a life and career changing revelation. This is his uplifting stpory of adjusting to rapid change with the most spectacular results...

Awareness through Art (Keynote)
John Dahlsen is an environmental artist, educator and workshop facilitator. He is an active international contributor to the arts, education and business fields through his motivational talks.

The Power of Awareness (Keynote)
Based on his personal experiences as an environmental artist advocate, John Dahlsen inspires individuals to look beyond their personal sphere to the needs of the world around them. John shares his own unique story with the most amazing visuals...

Seeing Beauty: The Complete Picture (Keynote)
Knowing all too well the power of the public’s perception of beauty, John strives to encourage people of all ages to find what truly makes things beautiful. He illuminates the mystifying elements of turning “ugly” trash into art...

A New Perspective on Change (Keynote)
Yes, you can thrive during uncertainty! That’s the message environmental artist John Dahlsen delivers. His prescription: Help people deal with the things they’re not seeing in their lives...

Oneness in our daily life (Keynote)
The only species that separates and alienates itself from nature is our own. In this keynote, John asks how we can adjust to the changes we face in life affirming ways...

The Environment and art (Keynote)
John Dahlsen is focused on designing environmentally sustainable artworks and transforming people’s consciousness. He envisions a society that is always looking to create from former waste products and seeks to "positively impact life on this planet." …

Inspiration from Art and for Life (Keynote)
Having a distinguished career as one of the worlds top environmental artists, John Dahlsen is now emerging as a creative force in the presentation of motivational speaking. For over 25 years, he has travelled the world having exhibitions of his extraordinary distinctive artworks and giving lectures to accompany them...


Artist statement on public speaking (guidelines and tips):

Public Speaking

As an artist, there will be many times that you will be approached to speak publicly, it may be just to say a few words at your own opening. This is pretty much how it happened for me. At first I was asked to say a few words at my exhibition openings. Following this, once people saw that I had a certain talent for it, I was asked to speak at other people's openings and before you knew it I was being asked to open exhibitions left right and centre.

I became proficient at giving these talks and soon began to branch out by letting people know that I was available for giving public lectures. With public speaking, the following tips are based on my experience and the lessons I have learnt from my mistakes. When I say mistakes in the realm of public speaking, and because it was usually me on display at the time, I mean something that has caused me to be quite red-faced in public. The following is to help you avoid getting yourself into that kind of situation. Remember once you are in front of the public it is too late, you need to be prepared and hopefully the following will help you. Before the lecture, take the time to go somewhere by yourself and unwind.

Give your voice a good workout; without straining to the point where you may lose your voice! Walk around and talk to yourself loud and soft until you are comfortable with the way that you sound and then when you are on stage you will be able to automatically begin with a sense of confidence and at the same time have a good pitch to your voice. There are a few other tricks that you can use as soon as you reach the microphone or as soon as you are introduced.
Begin by asking them a question. Can everybody hear me clearly?
Or: Is everybody feeling okay? - Usually they all say yes. If no one answers ask it again just fractionally louder. They will answer a second time and by then you have had a chance to settle your nerves.

Firstly, I'd like to begin with a few practical suggestions.
Public speaking essentially is about the “Art of speaking”.
Muscles control your voice.
You must warm up the muscles before you exercise, we may strain or damage them; keep this in mind because it's a good way to start a lecture or to start any form of public presentation.
The key to effective communication is:

  • Use your voice to create feelings within people
  • Remember to use tonality
  • You don't want to be loud or yell, - just have a good microphone
  • To quieten people down: just go: “sh sh sh sh sh....” - These work
  • Or raise your voice. This is a fantastic way to get people's attention
  • You can also do this by just going quieter.

There are other techniques you can also use during the course of a public speaking lecture.

  • There is a technique called ‘Pattern interrupted’ which is like what I suggested above with the: sh sh sh sh sh... or you can completely change the subject by going: “Can you smell that?... Is that rain coming?… or Is someone eating popcorn?… And for a little light humor, - Can I have some?“

– These are good examples.
Sometimes when you use these particular techniques, they can have the ability to diffuse arguments and anger for example in a private conversation, or in a lecture - if people are getting distracted or if you are in any way nervous being in front of the audience.

The art of public speaking

  • Speaking is more than just words
  • Activate curiosity
  • Connect on the emotional level

There are six psychological pillars

  • Imprint thoughts in their minds
  • Leave a vision on their minds
  • Use language that empowers
  • Be clear and positive
  • Provide relevant information
  • Make a great use of people's time.


What makes speakers boring?

  • A monotone voice
  • A lack of clear focus
  • Poor facial expressions

(For example, there are tests being done that show, when it comes to influencing people, fifty percent of that influence happens through physicality and thirty five percent happens through the voice)

  • No passion
  • The topic nobody cares about
  • The slouchy appearance
  • Slow speech patterns
  • Reading instead of speaking
  • Insufficient eye contact
  • Annoying physical habits.

What do you think is boring?
- On the other hand, success is when:

  • You talk about a topic people love
  • Your voice draws them in
  • Your personalities are similar
  • Your points are relevant to them
  • Your stories shift them emotionally
  • They use transformational mechanisms
  • They make you feel you were speaking directly to them, not down to them
  • You are authentically you
  • You speak in conversational tones as this attracts more than notes.

The goals of effective communication

  • Communicate with purpose
  • Communicate with real passion
  • Communicate with precision.

This is very important, so remember it:
The unbreakable law of professional speaking is: If you do not know the purpose of your message, no one else will.
Also remember your physicality is a very important aspect of public speaking, regardless of the level of public speaking you are engaging in. Your look defines you. Market yourself correctly. Dress for success. There are books that have been written about this particular component:  Amazon books has available for sale a publication by Warner Books, by John T Malloy, which is called: "Dress for success".

This is worth a read.

As an artist giving a public presentation such as public speaking engagement, I have been aware from the onset that it wouldn't impress anyone if I had arrived on the stage looking slouchy. So rather than turning up in my paint-splattered overalls just to make a point, I do quite the opposite.
I once made a purchase of a very expensive suit approximately ten years ago, after I had been asked to do a number of public speaking engagements.
I saw that this was probably something that I would be doing more of it and it was something that I did want to do more of. I could see that most of the people in attendance to these lecturers were dressed well, if not impeccably.
This was one of the best purchases I could have made.
I have met many distinguished and famous people at certain occasions. I have shaken hands with governors, senators and famous identities. I have not felt out of place and I feel that I also owe it to that attention to detail and amongst other things by buying that suit. I feel I present well at these engagements and in a sense it also helps me with my sense of confidence to be wearing good-quality good-looking apparel. Though, I never wear ties.

Body language

Awareness of body language is essential to successful public speaking.
I recommend two books:

  • There is a good book about this by Allan and Barbara Pearce called: “The definitive book on body language”.

This is a good book to buy to help you with this particular concept.

  • There is another book called: “Influence science and practice” by Robert B Cialdini that is also well worth reading.


The six influential pillars of speaking
Social proof and scarcity are the most utilized.

  • Law of reciprocation.

Giving - if I give you something it makes you feel special.

  • Law of commitment and consistency.

         What will set you apart is if you say you will do something and follow it up.

  • Law of social proof.

Testimonials, video newspaper articles, magazine articles, letters, (preferably signed with photographs).

    • Audios with photos are also good. Videos are the best.

With social proof seventy percent video twenty percent audio ten percent written is the statistics you are looking for.

  • The law of liking, smiling is an influence, also match the handshake, follow fractionally after.
    • This is a good thing to learn: just matching people's handshake - not being overly strong, or weak with the way that you shake the hand, just match where they're coming from.

This is a good tool.

  • Law of authority, credibility.

         Write your own book.

    • This is a good thing to have as a backend sale to your lectures and in your public speaking. I guide people through all aspects of how to write and self-publish their own book in my seminars.
  • Law of scarcity.
    • Engage your audience emotionally and intellectually.
    • Logic doesn't cause people to buy what you say; whatever shifts them are their emotions. Influence and persuasion is at work. Choose the right words. Words trigger emotions - all industries have key trigger words whether they’re in their verbal’s or written text.


Building your killer presentation
There is a key factor at work here and that is unique to trigger your audience and emotionally. Let's go through it step by step.

  • First thing is to secure the audience's attention. Use this following method as mentioned above

For example ask them how they are - twice. This puts you into control and it gets their attention.

  • Credibility
  • Rapport. Commonality: making eye contact, share your humanness
  • Self-effacing, eat some humble pie just to make contact: talk about some of the pitfalls you've had in your career
  • Target the audience problem. Find the pain, why are they there in the first place. What is it that they want to know?
  • Suggest there is a solution. Give hope
  • Set an expectation
  • Revelation. Fact number one, number two, etc
  • Provide social proof number one: for example, video testimonials.

Other tools of influence

It's handy to have a toolbox at your disposal.

As a public speaker one extraordinarily good tool to have in that box is the ability to use Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP).

A good resource book on this subject is called: "The unfair advantage - Sell with NLP”, by Duane Larkin.

Take time to learn about the skills of influence and persuasion. Also look at NLP techniques, these teach you the effective use of communication psychology. NLP is a pattern of speaking. There are no "ums" and few "buts".

Justice O'Connor has produced two books called: "Introduction to NLP" and "Selling with NLP". - Also good reference books on the subject.
Human being’s minds like to fill in the gaps. Take this for example. Pick a number between one-to-four. Most people will answer with the number three. We were influenced to choose three because we've already used one to and four. Consider that. Engage your audience emotionally and intellectually.

The absolute power of metaphors

The "X" factor.
Later in this book in Section Six, Business Strategies, The Artist as Business Person I have written about the engineer who went to a factory and placed the letter “X” on a faulty part. This story is a great metaphor and can be used in a number of instances because it has such a universal message about knowing one's worth.
You can use a number of methods in your public speaking engagements. I have one called the "Fast track highway to success" for example, which I articulate through a series of diagrams, how easy it is to get sidetracked when you're doing a project and get lost, only to eventually find yourself back on the super-highway way behind your competition. You can find your own metaphors, which serve your speaking engagement best. Once you have these in place you can weave the stories into a few as an introduction. This is called stacking. It's an effective way of bringing messages home and engaging your audience right from the outset. I might begin a lecture for example, using the metaphor about the “X” factor, followed on shortly afterwards via the “Fast track highway to success”, just to strengthen the message that I'm trying to convey. It works. It's effective. You can guide the flow of information just the way you want to. Have a look around and seek your own metaphors. There are many available, just Google or go to your local bookstore and research.

Defining your topic as a public speaker

  • What is your topic?
  • Who is your market?
  • Can they afford to buy whatever it is that you're selling?
  • What are the triggers that will make them by?
  • Supply proof in your lecture
  • Put marketing programs in place.


Five most common ways to find your topic

  • It is assigned to you. Someone gives it to you and you talk about it
  • It is your passion
  • It is based on your knowledge. Do the research. This is important
  • It is based on your skill
  • It is based on your desire to learn more about a topic.


Defining your topic - further information

As a public speaker, it is important to define the topics that you speak about by following simple practical steps. One of my first major engagements was to be invited to address a maritime and environmental symposium at the Australian embassy in Washington DC. This was a great experience, which ended up being successful for me and acted as a launch pad for my lectures about my own story as an environmental artist. I trained myself to speak well and listed my abilities on my website amongst other places and now I can address audiences on many subjects including motivational addresses.
In one sense your topic is already defined. How do you make yourself unique given that the above is true? It’s important to remember that whether you're an artist, a student, or a bureaucrat in the arts industry, everyone has their own unique story to tell, this is because everyone is different and has had different life experiences that brings them to the point where they are in their lives. That said everybody is in a unique situation when they have to define their topic. Here is a quick rundown on simple direct ways to define your topic.

  • Your topic should be about your natural talent and ability
  • Your topic should be about your life experiences
  •   Your topic should be about your knowledge and skills
  •   What message do you want to take out there in your lecture or your public speaking engagement?
  •   What message do you want to own out there in the market? You are dealing in the marketplace with people's perception of the fact, regardless of where you are delivering your public speaking engagement.


The right educators
With public speaking it's important that speakers know their topic thoroughly. Speakers need to be able to entertain. As I have said previously, there is nothing worse than being in the audience of a boring speaker. Avoid this at all costs. Avoid being in the audience where there is a boring speaker and most importantly avoid being a boring speaker. Speakers need to be able to sell what it is they're speaking about. This can range from information about modern art, or about sculpture for example.

I have devoted considerable time to this chapter on public speaking, because I have an enormous passion for speaking in public as an artist. I have discovered how powerful it can be to change people’s perceptions not only about our industry and the arts in general.

It can also provide a significant platform to promote and market your own work to a broad audience. Being a public speaker for me wasn’t easy to begin with, there were times when I was petrified to stand in front of an audience, having all my self worth issues right by my side as I stood there on countless occasions with my shaky voice betraying my inexperience, but I learnt from these circumstances and garnered enough training to overcome my inadequacies.

I later furthered my education in the field of public speaking and presentation, so that now I can easily deliver my speaking appointments with ease and confidence and where necessary with enough humor, sprinkled within my deliveries that audience participants often return on subsequent speaking engagements and to see the development of my work. You need to understand that when you are standing in front of an audience delivering a lecture, making a public speaking engagement, you are selling whatever it is you're speaking about. You don't want people to get up and walk out after five minutes, so bearing that in mind, you want them to buy what it is that you are selling or talking about. Speakers need to provide support for their audience. They also need to deliver on the promises that they give in their lecture. I find one of the best things that help me sell my lectures is my visual presentation.

I always begin my talks with an engaging image, (usually an image of one of my own artworks funnily enough!), which relates to the subject of the talk. This immediately helps to sell the lecture. It probably sounds strange talking about selling your talk, but this is what it's all about with public speaking. You don't want people to walk out or to start talking amongst themselves while you are delivering a lecture. As visual artists, we are fortunate that we can have visual aids such as images of our own work to support what it is we say, so without going overboard, I make the most of it by choosing a selection of works which accurately support things that I'm talking about in my lecture.

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