Please read Julia Galloway’s Field Guide Being Professional in person
Interviews and public events
appearance: Artists are known for their eclectic fashion. That’s great, milk it if that’s how you roll. However, it is important that you comport yourself professionally. Make sure your clothes are clean. Make sure you are clean- you don’t need to smell nice but you shouldn’t stink). When giving a presentation or interview, or going to an opening reception, you shouldn’t look as if you just came from the studio. People are more likely to engage with you if you seem as if you take yourself seriously. If you come to one of these events looking as if you do not care, that is precisely what you will communicate. If people think that you don’t care enough to make an effort to be there, they will not want to be there either. On the other hand, if you have taken care with your appearance, you are indicating that not only do you take yourself seriously, but that you care that your audience has arrived as well. A messy or dirty appearance suggests that you would rather be somewhere else. That said, it is also important that you do not try to be someone you are not. If you never wear a suit, and you wear one to an interview, you will look like you are uncomfortable in your own skin. Wear something and present yourself in a way that you feel like the best version of yourself. In that way you will be comfortable in your own skin. All of that is legible to the people around you. I got some really good advice once when preparing for an interview: Don’t get a haircut or change your appearance drastically the day before your big event. Do it the week before to give yourself some time to integrate the new look into your sense of self.
public speaking: If you are giving an image lecture or a lecture of any sort, there are some really important do’s and don’ts. First, anyone in this position is nervous. I would bet that every teacher is nervous the first day of class, even if they’ve been teaching for 40 years. Do not draw attention to your nerves by saying “I’m so nervous”. That makes people and our innate empathy uncomfortable- and actually makes the situation worse. Do speak slowly and clearly. If you are asked a question, take a moment to formulate your answer. You will come across as thoughtful. Do stand up straight. This shows confidence (even if you are terrified!) Do not fidget. Do Not chew gum!! Try to keep your features calm, don’t touch your face too much, don’t tap your fingers or toes….This is really hard but what I’ve found that is in concentrating on these things, I end up forgetting my nerves. If you are showing images, do not make excuses for bad image quality. If the image is bad, it’s bad, don’t draw attention to it. (This goes back to making sure you have good documentation of your work). Technology always fails. Always have a backup. If you plan to show images using their technology, have your powerpoint or other files both on a jump drive and shared swithyourself either on google drive or Dropbox or similar service. Make sure your files are comparable with their technology. If you are using Keynote, save a copy in the powerpoint format. It is sometimes better to use our own computer. If you do this, it is best practice to have the attachment that works with your computer. This might mean you have to buy the dongle specific to your computer. Technology changes so fast and not every venue has what you need to connect with their projector.
If you are giving a prepared speech, it is OK to read from a prepared document. Some of the best lectures I have ever attended have been a hybrid of a read lecture and off-the cuff conversation. Make eye contact as much as you can. Slow down and make sure your words match your images.
It is ok to say you don’t know something. If you don’t know the answer, it is better to say so than to bluff. This comes across as trustworthy which is never a bad thing. Being able to own up to your own lack of knowledge is an act of bravery and more often than not is recognized as such. Do not interrupt! Listen carefully, and do not talk over another person- even if you are excited about the conversation! Above all, be polite.
For whatever reason you are giving a presentation, you have been given this opportunity by someone else. When giving a speech, be sure to thank your hosts right away. If someone in the organization went above and beyond for you, this is a great chance to let them know you noticed. Even if someone has introduced you already when giving a lecture, it is best practice to begin by introducing yourself again.