Illustration. Tips on giving a talk about your work

Unaccustomed as I am to…

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Giving a talk about your work is great publicity but it can be daunting standing up in front of a group of people. Here’s a few tips.

“Would you like to give a talk?” she asked.

Yes, of course, I’m a tutor and a photographer – talking is what I do.

“You get paid and there’s a free lunch.”

Sold, yes, where do I sign up? “How many will be there?” I asked, picturing myself for a moment as Stephen Fry in a black tie.

The vision faded. I’ve a lot of experience as a creative writing and photography tutor which involves cosy groups of around ten people. I worked as a trainer in industry but my biggest group there was fifteen.
“I think it’s usually around fifteen to twenty.”

Great, that sounds manageable.

Scroll forward a couple of weeks, I’ve had a nice lunch, the projector is fired up and I am standing in front of fifty-six eager faces. Oh, and they have just been eating lunch so they are spread out around tables like guests at a wedding. This is the U3A so they are all of retirement age, the majority are wearing hearing aids and there is no microphone. This is going to tax the teacher voice.

Good advice when speaking to a group is, talk to the back wall. It helps you to project your voice. In this case, the back wall was an awfully long way away.

Here’s a few more tips on giving a talk

Make it fun – tell stories. Forty years as a photographer has given me a rich fund of stories but I never use these just as a story. I use them to illustrate points. If people remember the story they often remember the message as well.

Keep away from the technical. OK some people will relish knowing that you took the picture at 1/125 of a second at f8 using an Olympus OM5 with your zoom lens set at 26mm but most will be more interested in how you thought about the composition, how you climbed a stepladder to get the best viewpoint – especially if you fell off (yes it did happen but there was a soft landing).

Powerpoint does the pictures – you do the words. Ever been to one of those presentations where the speaker puts everything they say up on the screen as bullet points. It’s boring, and worse, it’s confusing.
Most people respond primarily to the visual. Show them an interesting image, whether a photograph or a sales graph climbing steeply and most of them will listen to you to find out more about it. Add what you are saying as words to that image and most people will tune out the speaker and just read the bullet points.

Know your script. It’s about eye contact. Some speakers just use notes; I write the whole talk out but I know large sections of it. This means I am looking at the audience for most of the time and only looking down if I need to check the headings or read a section I haven’t memorized.
Pause. Nervous people speak quickly – slow it down. Just told your audience something interesting? Wait a few seconds for them to digest the information. Changing subject? Pause a few beats. You do not need the oratory skills of Winston Churchill or the conic timing of Billy Connelly but inflection and change of pace in your voice keeps the listeners interested.

My talk? The feedback was good, my voice has recovered and I’m off to buy a portable microphone kit.

More digital photography tips

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Using shutter speeds and apertures to take better photographs

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Photo of Consolidated Catalina (PBV-1A) PBY-5 43-3915 G-PBYA Old Buckenham 2016

Consolidated PBY Catalina

Aircraft Histories

Catalina crews flew long, monotonous, maritime and anti-submarine patrols throughout World War II. With a range of around 2500 miles (4000 km) the Consolidated PBY Catalina took them far from land and out over the oceans of the world.

These patrols had a major influence on key events of the war. One PBY Catalina found the Japanese fleet of Admiral Yamamoto before the battle of Midway and an RAF Catalina located the German battleship Bismark. This sighting led to the battleship’s eventual sinking.

Action, when it came could be destructive and two Victoria crosses were won (one posthumously) by Catalina captains for pressing on with attacks against heavily armed U-boats. By the end of the war forty U-Boats had been sunk by Catalinas.

The Consolidated PBY (Patrol Bomber the Y designating manufactured by Consolidated) was christened Catalina by the RAF, a name later adopted by the US services, and Canso by the RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force).

The RAF favoured the flying boat version without wheels whereas the US Navy operated more of the amphibious version capable of landing on both water and land.

Consolidated Catalina (PBV-1A) PBY-5 43-3915 G-PBYA Old Buckenham 2016

Developed from a line of flying boats manufactured by the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation over 4000 PBY Catalinas were produced.

In 1944 the Soviets also acquired, under Lend-Lease, 137 PNB-1 Nomads, an updated model of the flying boat version of the PBY, which had a longer range and heavier armament than the previous models. Most of these were used in the short Soviet-Japanese War of 1945.

By 1944 Catalinas were to stay aloft for over thirty hours and completed some of the longest journeys in terms of time airborne in aviation history. Qantas Catalinas completing weekly flights between Perth and Ceylon a distance of 3592 miles (6652 km) which took the relatively slow flying boats 28 to 32 hours.

Countless airmen and sailors were rescued by the flying boat and the Catalina continued its search and rescue operations after the war. Although the RAF disposed of all its Catalinas at the end of the war and the US had retired its PBYs by the mid-fifties.

The aircraft continued in service with smaller air forces and many were converted for civilian uses as diverse as ocean fishing platforms, private flying yachts and firebombers.

Consolidated Catalina (PBV-1A) PBY-5 43-3915 G-PBYA

The photos on this page are all of Consolidated Catalina (PBV-1A) PBY-5 43-3915 G-PBYA. Read more about this Catalina’s history at G-PBYA: A Short History of Plane Sailing’s Catalina

More aircraft histories


The Soviet PBY Catalinas of WWII

The Consolidated Catalina And Variants

G-PBYA: A Short History of Plane Sailing’s Catalina

Illustrated poetry Longing for a Full Colour Life

Illustrated Poetry Longing for a Full Colour Life

She stands alone before sink and bowl
And feels the ache within her soul
The hand that once caressed her there
Now rests on arm of favourite chair

She does not mind her lovers belly
Or hours of footie watched on telly
The years have passed in shades of grey
Oh if only life had been that way

Now with hands in rubber gloves
Plunged in a bowl of Fairy's suds
She thinks about a bit of heaven
with Mr Jones at fifty seven


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