Juggling Talk Requirements

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This page tries to set out what I need and expect when I come to do a Juggling Talk for you. I hope that the information here will answer most of your questions, but if there's anything missing then please Let Us Know so we can add it and save time for everyone.

These guidelines are here to help you get the most from my visit, and they are genuine guidelines, not hard and fast rules.

The highlights

These are just the highlights - please do read the rest of the page, carefully ...


The Audience

The presentation that I give is not a juggling performance per se, but is a talk about juggling, with integral demonstrations. Some parts of the talk are entertaining and suitable for children, but the majority is targeted at those who can concentrate for more than 5 minutes at a time.

The following are my guidelines. Every group is different and there will always be exceptions. Please Let Us Know if you have any questions ...

My experience suggests that a group of children under the age of 14 does not get the benefit of the usual presentation and therefore needs to be given a modified version that leaves out the more abstract (and to my mind much more interesting!) material. A group that is somehow self-selected and with a minimum age of 13 is OK provided their expectations have been set correctly. A mathematics masterclass is a perfect example.

Audiences aged from 16 to 18 (or so) do get the full benefit, but again, only if their expectations have been set correctly. Simply telling a class of 16 year olds that a juggler is coming has the potential for a wasted hour.

Ages 18 and upwards are generally fine.


The two most vital ingredients are that people can see and people can hear. It is essential that everyone can see my hands while I juggle, and therefore they need to see me from the waist up. In a large, flat hall this will not be the case unless I am on a stage, which then separates me from the audience and reduces the interaction.

If the audience is large then the ideal is to have a raked lecture theatre or similar. A small raised platform, maybe 30cm to 50cm in an otherwise flat hall will also work.

I don't need an exceptionally high ceiling, just as long as I can't touch it without jumping. That means that an eight foot ceiling is high enough.

I need to be able to see a clock, so I can judge how fast or slow I'm going. The presentation always gets adapted to the audience, so I don't have a fixed timing to work to.


Visual aids

Using a computer projector

I now mostly use a regular computer projector for my presentation. Most people insist that they don't have, or can't provide, an old-fashioned OHP, and it's a lot of work maintaining two versions of the talk, so I now just go with the computer version.

That being the case, I will need somewhere to set up my laptop, or whatever computer I'm using, so that I can get to the keyboard when necessary, but it is largely out of the way. Please note that I talk, juggle, and move about a lot during my talk, so getting this right makes a big difference. In general it's not a problem, but once or twice it's required some effort to make sure we get the best arrangement.

We need to make sure that when I move about I don't mask the screen. That can also be awkward, especially in ordinary rooms as opposed to lecture theatres. Again, it's never been a show-stopper, but it does benefit from some thought beforehand.

This is not an ordinary "lecture".


The lighting needs to be bright enough to see me juggle, but not so bright as to wash out the projector. Spotlights are bad news when juggling because looking up at the balls leads to instant (albeit temporary) blindness.


I don't wear a watch, and like to travel light, so I'll need to be able to see a clock to be able to time my presentation. Without a clock I tend to keep everyone fascinated for far longer than they expected ...

I can use my phone as clock, but it is less comfortable to do so.


I live on the Wirral near Bebington station, and I usually travel by train when possible, by car when necessary, and by 'plane only when essential or genuinely cost-effective. Given these guidelines it helps me a great deal if a host can outline travel arrangements for me. I need to know the station to travel to, whether I will be picked up or take a taxi, and in the case of a taxi, where I need to ask for.

I don't mind a 10 or 15 minute walk, provided the weather is reasonable. The more you organise for me, the easier it will be for us both. I will know what to do, and you will know where I'll be.

I generally prefer to arrive some hours before I am scheduled to talk to avoid the panic caused by a late-running train or a traffic jam. I like to be at the venue some 30 minutes in advance to check the lights, the seating, etc., and think about any changes I might need to make to the talk.

Food and drink

A heavy meal beforehand is never a good idea, but a snack might be welcome, depending on the time and journey. I can't eat spicy food such as curries or chilli, and don't drink alcohol at all. A meal afterwards is a great opportunity for more questions and discussion. If Rachel is accompanying me then she can't eat fish or seafood.


I am not demanding about accommodation. All I ask is a quiet room, a comfortable bed, a good shower, and a nice breakfast. I am more than happy to stay with a host to help reduce costs.


  • How much do I charge?
  • Expenses plus whatever you offer.
  • However, consider the time you're
    asking for. It's not just the time
    on stage, it's also the travel, the
    preparation, and the experience.
Clearly one of the main questions is "How much do you charge?", and yet this is the hardest question to answer.

Until recently the reply I gave was that I would come and speak for you if you pay all of my expenses. However, that's becoming less feasible, so while it's true that I do not have a fee structure, I would ask that you offer some sort of honorarium in addition to the expenses.

My expenses are modest. I usually travel by train and you can find out the price of a return ticket from Liverpool. I am willing to stay with people who offer, or in an inexpensive but adequate hotel. Ask yourself what you would require in my position, and you'll have a good idea of my needs.

A lunch consisting of a sandwich, coffee and cake costs five or six pounds, a coffee is about a pound, and an evening restaurant meal can cost 10 or 15 pounds.

Over the past 30 years I've gradually been giving more and more talks, so my involvement with industry and other organisations has decreased. As a result I now partly earn my living from giving talks, so I ask that people treat me fairly in this regard.

Perhaps even more, though, there are people just starting out, looking to make their living from giving presentations. To come and give talks effectively for nothing is to undercut them, and that's wrong. I need to support them, and one of the ways I can do that is by asking for sensible, sustainable payments.

As a guideline, offer me as much money as you think the presentation is worth, but not so much that you can't afford to invite me back. But also consider this - you're not just getting the hour or so of the presentation itself, you're also getting all the travel, preparation, and 30 years of experience.


I have finally given up on the idea of doing paperwork. I give this talk around 90 times a year, and a quick calculation (literally on the back of an envelope!) showed that I was spending up to 3 or 4 hours per talk on emails and paperwork. I have decided that over 200 hours a year, five weeks of working days is quite simply too much.

I ask that we agree a single figure in advance to cover all expected expenses and any fee offered. I will then present an invoice from Solipsys Limited for that all inclusive figure. It does not need to be paid in advance, or even on the day, but as always, prompt payment would be appreciated.

This invoice comes from, and is
payable to, a limited company.

That means no tax need be deducted.
You are not paying an individual!

I recognise that not every organisation can work in this way, but not to do so causes me significant difficulties. Without being able to document fully all my income and expenditure through the books, my life becomes unreasonably difficult. So much so that this is now the only way I can do a talk.

If it helps, consider the invoice to be for services provided, and the amount is the negotiated price for that contract.

With regards fees and expenses, here's some interesting reading:

These are just a simple statement of the facts.



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