A different kind of presentation

I was asked to present at Community Code Day on the Business of the Arts.  I had done a version of this presentation with art students at a local high school a couple of months ago.  I found that the content and its delivery felt flat (to me).  Inspired by a recent engagement at Father Beauregard School, where I painted in the atrium and classes cycled in and out to watch and ask questions, I decided to take a similar approach with yesterday's one hour session.

Photo by Said El Majdani

Guests came into the classroom at Keyano College and I started by having them select one of my business cards that features a variety of my paintings.

"Pick a card that speaks to you in some way, whether its subject or its colour," I said.  "It will serve a purpose later on in the presentation."

Just before getting started, I asked for a volunteer to play the role of "Chief Inquisitor".  Parth put up his hand and I brought him up to the front of the room.  His role was to keep the conversation going, as I was going to have my back to audience painting the whole time.  I gave him a set of large cardboard cards that had a series of things written on them:  "Find your voice", "Find your audience", "Just do", etc.  When there was a lull in the questions, he could hold up a sign and I would speak to it.

Photo by Said El Majdani

Parth was incredible.  He kept the dialogue going for a full hour, and in the process, asked some insightful questions.  I'd hire him to play this role any day of the week.  He was brilliant.

At several points, I turned around to engage the audience directly or to punctuate a story.  I was surprised how many people were there; the room was nearly full to capacity.

If you want to watch the painting and listen to the questions and answers, a video is posted on the Youth Computing Facebook page

In the final few minutes, I asked several people to share what business card they picked and why.  I then shared a few stories about the paintings that were featured on those cards.  Having different paintings on my business cards allows people to select one that has meaning to them, instantly enriching the perceived value of the card and deepening the connection to me and what I do.  It was a simple form of person to person marketing and a perfect way to pass the baton to the next presenter who was going to focus on social media marketing.  Melanie Galea's session is also posted on the Youth Computing Facebook page.

My thanks to all the organizers and volunteers at Community Code Day for inviting me to present and allowing me to paint.  It was a presentation experiment that worked out pretty well.


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