Well, it finally happened….someone approached you and asked, “could you come and talk to my group about rug hooking?”
What do you say?
When this happens, your first reaction will to be genuinely pleased, flattered and enthused to think that someone wants to know more about this traditional craft and they want you to give them a talk!
Before you start bobbing your head wildly in affirmation, step back a bit and don’t attempt to answer to their question – yet!
There are a number of questions you should consider asking before you make a commitment of your time, energy and money. Obviously you can make up your own mind about how and what you might do at any session, but….if you want to maintain some control over your time and sanity you may wish to give serious thought now to the following questions so you are ready with your considered response the day you are asked the inevitable question!
So…what should you consider?
- What exactly does this group want?
Each group is different and the “one size fits all approach” doesn’t usually work for any presentation, no matter what the topic.
A talk? A talk is just that. A talk. And a talk can take you in a number of directions with regard to this craft. What do they want to hear more about? The history and evolution of rug hooking in North America? Rug hooking’s rise and near demise in Australia? Do they want to see samples of different types of work and understand how it differs from latch hooking? What? Ask very specific questions so you will know how to focus your talk.
A demonstration? This is a bit more than a talk and involves elements of “show and tell”. Again, what do they want demonstrated? How the hook used? The prodder? What’s the difference between the two techniques and how are they used? (Historically and in contemporary works). A demonstration is a demonstration not a “hands-on-workshop”. Depending on the size of the group, you might decide to let them each “have a go” to hook or prod a few stitches but anything more than that and you have entered the world of The Workshop!
Yes…yes…I know it’s hard to “draw the line” when you are doing a demonstration as to how much “extra” you can allow…it’s your call. But…if you have materials ready in advance as part of your “demonstration kit” (You do have a demonstration kit, don’t you?) then you have already set the parameters for your session.
A Workshop? Now you’ve entered the “Big Time”! [I refer you to the document, “Planning a Workshop?” for more details on how to think about the structure of your workshop, and the planning questions to ask!]
In brief….the most important thing to think about here is that you NOT confuse a demonstration with a workshop (unless you don’t ever plan to distinguish between the two; then this won’t matter).
When you demonstrate: you SHOW.
When you teach a workshop: you SHOW and DO; then the participants DO (with your help).
There is a big difference between the two activities and it is easy to set participants up for failure if they think that by seeing a demonstration they know how to DO the craft. So….be aware of how you will sell these two concepts and make your distinction clear when you decide to say “yes” to the request.
- You know what type of presentation the group wants, what else should you consider?
How much time will I have and how many people will attend? It is absolutely critical that you know the answer to these two questions. The answers will determine whether or not you can offer the kind of presentation the group thinks it wants. YOU are in charge here and you may need to let the group know that they will have too many people for you do offer an effective demonstration and that you would be happy to do a “talk” and work with them to set up a demonstration at another time (so you can bring some assistants or helpers, etc.) OR it may be that you are only given 45min for your presentation, in which case you are probably looking at a “talk”. Be clear about what you can and cannot do within the allotted time and for the size of group.
Will I have time to set up before my presentation? Will there be help?
There is nothing worse than finding out you’ll have to set up your equipment, computer, frames, whatever AFTER the group has their regular meeting. This means you will have to waste a portion of your presentation time setting up – and finding out too late there is no power point or enough room for everything you brought! Ask about the room, how it’s set up and what is available.
Will you pay my travel expenses? Often we are happy to make a local trip to give a “talk” and don’t expect any reimbursement (although many groups have some funds and are generally happy to help with a small gratuity if necessary). The real issue I think, is when you are traveling – even a “bit more” – than a local trip, then you need to decide whether or not to discuss travel expenses. It may be that you’ve wanted to get a “foot in the door” with a particular group and are willing to travel at no charge any distance just to have access to them for a session. It’s up to you, just don’t automatically “forget” your transport costs. (Remember, if you are doing a session that requires you to have extra people as assistants, they too need to be paid).
Will you pay me for my time? Many organisations will pay a small stipend or honorarium to a speaker. So ask! It may not be a lot but it does serve to hold a groups’ attention when they are paying for the speaker’s time! If you are offering demonstration (which involves a lot of preparation and hauling materials, etc.) then you should expect some payment for your time. The same is even more true for a workshop! You should have already factored your “professional” fee (including travel) into your workshop costs, but be sure you are getting paid something. Again, I refer you to the “Planning a Workshop?” document.
Can I sell supplies, kits, materials at the session? If you can’t sell materials, tools, or kits at the session (the venue used may have it’s own regulations about selling) then you may have to make a decision that you will:
1. Only offer a “talk” and they can arrange to have a demonstration or workshop (you should have dealt with the venue issue during your planning so it shouldn’t’ be an issue) at another time and venue when you can offer items for sale.
2. Plan the talk or demonstration such that you will “give away” materials. Again, if this is a “talk” there isn’t too much anyone would probably know enough about to buy; if it’s a demonstration you may decide to supply the “have a go” materials and not have anything for sale.
Be sure you have business cards available with your contact information and any other materials about yourself and what you do. This is a great time to let others know you are available as a teacher, presenter and demonstrator.
How will you accept payment? If you are able to sell items, how will people pay? Cash only? Cheque? Credit Card? You should make sure people are told that items will be for sale at the session and how you will accept payment.
These are a few of the key questions you should address BEFORE you are called on to be a speaker. Establish your own criteria with regard to what groups you want to work with – and those you don’t.
“Education is not the piling on of learning, information, data, facts, skills, or abilities – that’s training or instruction – but is rather making visible what is hidden as a seed.”
Sir Thomas More