I am very pleased that my image of a bluebell wood at sunrise was chosen for the current issue of Nikon’s N-Photo magazine. As well as this, it is also displayed (almost) double page in the same issue as well as featuring in Country Living and Wild Britain.
And, as Nikon N-Photo’s cover photo on their Facebook page.
In the past 14 days I have been contacted, by email, by 2 groups checking that I was still available to give a talk (just 2 days from the email) when I hadn’t so much as received a letter of confirmation. Fortunately, I was not booked to speak elsewhere so was able to give the talk. They were lucky, as I give in the region of 2 lectures a week at this time of the year. I’ll keep this simple, if I do not receive confirmation by way of a posted letter (with a section for me to complete, sign and return) or email (backed up by a reply from me) I will not turn up!
Over the last 20 years I have given in the region of 20-25 talks per year (that adds up to well over 400 talks) to a wide range of groups and societies, from the RSPB, WWT and Wildlife Trust to Photographic Societies, WI’s, National Trust and The Royal Photographic Society. I therefore feel I am in a strong position to give advice on how to book and treat a speaker and so, below, have listed a do’s and don’t's when doing so.
- Make an initial phone call or send an email to see if the speaker is available, in the first instance prior to booking. Confirm fee and format of the evening and whether the speaker requires any equipment other than the digital projector that the speaker would, in most cases, supply themselves. Offer to supply a back-up projector.
- Immediately (not 3 weeks later!) follow up with a letter of confirmation with a reply slip attached or email requesting the speaker to reply to the email to confirm it has reached them. If you do not hear from the speaker, ring them. Do not assume the email has been received and that, therefore, the speaker has been booked. It doesn’t!
- Along with confirmation, enclose a detailed map and directions to the venue. If the venue is in the middle of nowhere, then supply a map with, preferably, Lat/Long and not just a postcode as this is too vague when it’s pitch black and pouring with rain! Do not ring the speaker and expect them to jot down directions through a phone call. I cannot tell you how many times someone has attempted this with me only for me to stop them in their tracks and ask that they send me a map.
- If an AGM is to be held that same evening, explain this to the speaker before the day and ask if they would like to speak before or after. If you would prefer the speaker to start after the AGM, suggest they arrive towards the end of the meeting where they can then set up which, for most of us, takes less than 15 minutes. Few things irk a speaker more than to turn up and, while setting up, be informed that there will be an AGM beforehand!
- Once the speaker has arrived introduce him/her to both the chairman and whoever is responsible for the setting up of the presentation.
- If there is very limited parking space at the venue, reserve a space for him/her with a traffic cone or two. Or, since committee members often arrive very early, arrange for one to park as near to the entrance of the venue as possible and when the speaker arrives, allow the speaker to park in it. Speakers are always very grateful if they do not have to walk too far with all their equipment. Notify the speaker beforehand of the plan.
It is very important at this stage that the speaker be treated as a welcomed guest and is offered help in any way possible.
- If the speaker has travelled some distance (let us say 50 miles plus) offer to make them a hot drink.
- Prepare a glass of water and ask the speaker where they would like it placed.
- Pay the speaker before the talk or during the interval. This reassures him/her that he/she won’t have to chase up the treasurer afterwards!
- Make sure you know the speakers name, how to pronounce it and also the title of the talk. We do not like (in my case) being called Robin or for the chairman not quite remembering the title of the talk. This shows a complete lack of respect towards the speaker and, in the eyes of the speaker, makes your group look rather bumbling!
- Make sure someone is assigned to switch the lights off and on again. It’s very off-putting for the speaker to have an introduction to the talk, request the lights be switched off and then for the audience to look at one another wondering who’s going to do it! It’s all about the smooth running of the evening.
- Prior to the interval, arrange with the speaker what he/she would like to drink and bring it to them, preferably with bikkies! Do not expect the speaker to queue up! I have to say, this is very rare but on the rare occasion it has, I didn’t mince my words!
- During the interval, assign someone to stand and chat with the speaker.
- After the talk, give a note of thanks and, at the speakers discretion, ask if anyone has any questions. Most of us welcome this. I certainly do!
- Offer to assist the speaker with taking his/her equipment back to the car.
- Do not leave the speaker on his/her own in an empty room, packing away. This is incredibly rude and the one group that has done this to me has been black-listed!
- Finally, make sure the chairman stays with the speaker while he/she packs up and says a formal goodbye. The speaker should not be expected to hunt around the room looking for the chairman!
Please, this is not a rant! My experience with groups booking me and of the evening itself has, for the vast majority of the time, been very positive without any problems whatsoever and where I have been made to feel very welcome. I have put this together so that groups have a much clearer understanding of what the speaker would like and, indeed, should expect and, perhaps, include some of those points which the group are not, already, addressing. After all, many of us travel a considerable distance to speak for the evening and so being welcomed and said goodbye to without a hitch only makes us want to return. Don’t be the group that ends up in my, or any other speaker’s, black-book!
I am very happy for this to be duplicated and used by your group.
A selection of my favourite images over the past 6 months can now be seen on my Gallery, here, which can be purchased as Fine Art prints or for publication.
With a maximum of 6 guests on this photo-tour to one of Europe’s most remote and unspoilt regions, we have just 2 spaces available! And that’s without putting it up on my website, yet, which will be done very shortly.
The trip is remarkably good value for money considering you will be guided and tutored by 2 professional nature photographers and receive full board accommodation. All you need to pay for are the flights which are currently £145.
So, if you want to grab a place and join us on this landscape and wildlife adventure near the borders of Slovakia and Ukraine, contact me at email@example.com to receive a brochure.
Bieszczady National Park – Poland’s “Wild East”
June 17th – 20th 2013
I’ll be giving a talk at Marwell Photographic Group on Wednesday 5th December for their Christmas Presentation and I have been informed that there are a few tickets available. If you’d like to attaend, tickets are available from Kath at a cost of £7.50. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and can be collected at the door. It will be held at Marwell Wildlife’s Science and Learning Centre and starts at 7.30. Here’s a link to their programme page.
With the presentation containing more than 100 images, based on my favourite shots taken over the last 12-18 months, there will be a broad mix of flora, fauna and landscapes, taken in the UK and abroad with, as per usual, lots of technical info and useful hints and tips thrown in!
About Robert Canis
Robert Canis is a professional photographer specialising in the natural world.
Read more about Robert Canis