Public Speaking: Growth Only Happens Outside Your Comfort Zone

Public Speaking: Growth Only Happens Outside Your Comfort Zone

Intro by Skip Cohen

So often, we think of public speaking in this industry as it relates strictly to professional photography. We’ve all been to conferences and conventions and experienced great presentations and bad, but to Chamira Young’s point in today’s post – public speaking is a great way to build your brand. You don’t have to be the keynote at a national or regional conference!

From presentations in the classroom at the local high school to helping various non-profits and community organizations become better photographers, putting your personality and reputation on display will substantially impact your skillset.

For example, fall is right around the corner, and with it comes some fun seasonality. How about a presentation right in your community about better Halloween pictures this year? And what about a presentation about storytelling and how to best document Thanksgiving? It’s no different than the way you put together an album from a wedding.

The list goes of possible opportunities for you to be speaking in front of your community as well as photographers is virtually endless. However, the key is to build a reputation for giving back to the community through your experience as a photographer and, at the same time, build your confidence in communicating.

Last but not least, look for opportunities to present on Zoom or a facsimile. It’s not the same as doing a live presentation, but it does help finetune your speaking skills. Again, this is about building your comfort level and being a stronger communicator.


By Chamira Young

As photographers, hiding behind the lens is usually our best place. This is when we do our best work, of course, but much of our outreach work needs to be online or in person, but in both realms, we are using our words and voices.

To get better at this aspect of our business, we need to work that speaking muscle too. Here are a few ways how speaking engagements can improve your photography business.

  1. Get out of your comfort zone: Making yourself do a few speaking engagements is practicing those skills that are out of your comfort zone. You get better at speaking with strangers, crowds, and in turn your customers in the future. You learn helpful tips to practice dealing with stressful situations and high-pressure scenarios that can be helping when shooting on-site with your photography.
  2. Practice speaking directly to a target audience: Not only does speaking help you out of your comfort zone, it also helps you target an audience. It can be difficult to always focus on the people you want to reach in your business, but partaking in speaking events toward specific crowds, it will give you the chance to speak at, and to those people in a very direct way. It will give you the confidence and the ability to verbalize the true message you want to send that will help your business reach all the right people.
  3. Learn from other businesses, not just other photographers: Learning is a key component when it comes to running a business. Learning from photographers in your niche can be an obvious choice, but by attempting new challenges in speaking engagements, conferences, and more, you also have the chance to learn from businesses far different than your own. Each business you encounter will have lessons and bits of knowledge that you will likely be able to take and integrate into your own.
  4. Start networking and pitching: The final reason to give speaking opportunities a chance is simply to network and pitch. One of the best ways you can get to know your city is by meeting with and speaking to a wide range of people from your area. Get to know those people, learn about the businesses, target their needs, and then take mental notes for your business. Any chance you get to speak about and share the work that you do as a photographer is a key opportunity to reach new ears.

Where can you be speaking? After sharing some reasons why you should be considering these events, now you might be curious as to what these events might actually be? There are more opportunities than you think in your town or city to speak to large groups.

Library meetings, town hall meetings, networking events, career fairs, chamber meetings, festivals, and more. These are events where a variety of speakers will be sharing in the same way you are, and an even wider variety of people will be listening.

By challenging your comfort zone and attempting to leverage speaking events, you can easily see why these challenges would be a huge benefit to your photography business. Gaining confidence, learning, and sharpening your craft is the best way to grow your business to new heights.

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This article was written by
Chamira Young

Chamira started her journey into the arts with a goal to be an artist. From the University of Michigan School of Art & Design (Go Blue!) to working as an excited graphic designer and illustrator at a book publishing company, to serving as an eager photographer, print designer, and web designer at an international motorcycle magazine. She admits to being a tech nerd and today is a successful photographer, podcaster and writer. She co-hosts two popular podcasts with Skip Cohen, writes for Photofocus.com, her own blog, ProPhotographerJourney, and has a never-ending love for the craft!

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