As physicians, we are often called upon to give talks, many times without much notice for preparation. You would think that experience and the fact that we present all the time, would give us the confidence to speak off-the-cuff, especially since we are so familiar with the topics.
When it comes to giving public talks (which we all should strongly consider to grow the medical practice and get more prospective patients), there is a strategy to eliminate the pain of anxiety.
10 Strategic Steps
1) Know Your Crowd
Who will be in the audience when you give your talk. Find out the demographics (age, gender, interests) from the person or company who has arranged for you to give the presentation. Doing your homework ahead of time will enable you to relate or engage them better.
2)What’s your point?
Pick three points that you would like to convey for your message.
Open your talk with a story that elicits emotions, whether it be fear, hope, anger, love. Be cautious about starting with jokes. They can fall flat, setting a poor tone for the rest of the talk. Worse yet, humor can be culturally or ethnically affected and what you may find funny, others may find offensive. Once you have engaged the audience, they will be more receptive to hearing your message.
4)Tell them What You are going to tell them
Inform your audience what three points you will be telling them and what you hope they will learn by listening to your talk.
Illustrate each of the three points with a story. The story can be a personal one that people can relate to or a case study. Think about patients you have had that have been helped by the point that you are making.
In starting your close, summarize the key points that you have conveyed in your talk. People remember the takeaway message. Presenting it as a problem with your points as a solution, stress the importance of these points.
7)Call to Action
Make sure that you have added a clear, concise action that you want the audience to take such as:
- Sign up for newsletter
- Email to get copy of slides
- Call office for appointment
- Download my free report
8) Record Yourself
Practice your talk so that you are familiar with it. Your talk should flow naturally and not be one where you must depend on your notes. You want to give the perception that you know what you are talking about and that you didn’t do research in order to talk about the topics you are presenting. Make a video of you talking, and view that video. Do you need to have voice inflections in a particular spot? Do you need to improve your eye contact? These and many other actions can be picked up when you review the video.
9) Know your surroundings
Come early to the venue so that you are familiar with the venue where you will be giving the talk. Get comfortable with the platform. Test the equipment. If you need another speaker, audio equipment, screen, or podium, you will be able to make your requests before your talk so that everything works smoothly once you start the actual talk.
10) Come prepared
Make sure that you have a stack of business cards and brochures so that when the audience wants to reach you, learn more about you and make those appointments, you are making it easy for them to do so!
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