ASK COREY: What’s the Secret to Giving a Photography Presentation?

by Corey Rich

Dear Corey, I see you are constantly giving presentations at events all around the world. I want to become a professional photographer, but I’m much more comfortable behind the lens than up on a stage. Is this a necessary evil to the job that they don’t tell you about in photography school? Do you get nervous? What’s your secret, man?!
Thanks for all your work,


Hey Steve! I never knew that giving presentations would be part of my job either. Your observation is correct. Being able to give public presentations is definitely a great skill to have if you want to be a professional photographer.

As I’ve mentioned in other blog posts, until I found photography as my career (or, rather, until it found me), I had always considered becoming a school teacher. Teachers, of course, are the ultimate presenters. They have to get up on stage and perform in front of an audience day after day. So obviously there was some part of me that was naturally drawn to speaking in front of an audience.

I love telling stories and I love talking about subjects that I am passionate about.

I have learned a few things along the way. One interesting footnote to my life is that much of what I learned about giving presentations came from a course I took in college called Standup Comedy 101. This course fulfilled my public speaking requisite and it also seemed like a fun course to take! Sure enough, our final exam actually took place in a pub. Each student had to stand up on a stage a perform a 5-minute comedy routine.

My routine was painful because I’m not that funny. I probably barely passed the course. But what I did learn that semester has continued to come back and actually help me in my real-world job. Here are some tips:

Be self-deprecating. You’re already up on stage, in a position of esteem and authority. And people are suspicious of authority. So the very best way to win over your audience and get them on your side is to make fun of yourself. Don’t take yourself too seriously, and you’ll instantly become more accessible to others. Do this within the first 30 seconds of your presentation, too. You’ll have a captive audience whose suspicions have been alleviated. They are now ready to go on the journey with you that is your presentation.

Imagine everyone is in their underwear. That’s the classic advice, anyway. But really what that means is to make eye contact with the audience. You don’t have to actually picture people in the buff, but you absolutely do need to speak as if you’re talking directly to people on an intimate, one-on-one level.

People want a person, not a pitch. One area of presenting that gives me trouble is when I’m asked to speak about a super technical subject with which I’m not as knowledgeable as I probably should be. This is going to happen to you, too. But the important thing to remember is that people don’t come to presentations to hear a live reading of the complete Nikon D4s owner’s manual. They want to hear stories and ideas coming from a real person. Ground your presentation in your own anecdotes, experiences and what makes the subject personally meaningful to you. That’s what people want to hear.

Be a student of presentations: Watch and study others, whether that’s a teacher, a comic, a scientist, or a business leader like Tim Cook. Pay attention and you’ll quickly begin to identify and adopt certain universal traits that all the best presenters seem to have in excess. Confidence, humility, honesty and masterful storytelling. Notice how these things manifest in great presentations, and try to embody them in your own. It’s not just the content—it’s the technique and the delivery.

Be Yourself. Talk to people like you’re talking to your best friend in the world. Be open. Reveal your secrets. Don’t withhold information. And of course, it probably won’t hurt to throw in a joke or two.

related articles

1 comment

Joaquin Cordua September 27, 2014 - 5:27 am

Many thanks for this article Corey.
Greats from Chile!

Comments are closed.