Public Speaking: Leaving an Impression on Your Audience

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Preparing your presentation or poster for a medical conference is the first step, but ensuring the audience remembers the content of your topic is much more difficult. You’ve put a lot of time and energy into your session, but an unresponsive audience could cut down on the perceived value of your research. Below are some tips to help listeners leave your session with a lasting impression.

Start Out Strong and Position Yourself Effectively

Although you want your audience to remember you, you want it to be for the right reasons. The best place to start, with public speaking, is with how you present yourself. Regardless of whether you’re a noteworthy surgeon or a burgeoning med student, determine dress code and presentation style ahead of time. For instance, unless you’re moving from an oral presentation directly into a wet lab, you shouldn’t need to wear a white coat, scrubs or tools. Instead, dress in accordance with the audience to make them feel more at ease.

Start the presentation with something that will hold the crowd’s attention, like a joke, interesting story or head-turning fact. However, it’s important to consider who’s in your audience and what will resonate with them. The goal is to engage with the crowd as early as possible in order to keep their attention throughout the presentation.

Keep It Concise and Offer a Call to Action

If your presentation contains a primary visual, such as a slide deck, try to keep the words on each slide to a minimum. You want the audience paying attention to you, not trying to keep up with reading your PowerPoint.

Also, the importance of the elevator pitch extends far beyond the business world and into the medical industry. Meaning, you should be able to explain the crux of your topic or research within the first 30 seconds of your session. If you can’t get your message across succinctly, you may lose your audience before you finish addressing your topic.

At the end of your presentation, provide the audience with something to do, whether it’s a recommendation to read additional materials or an invitation to attend a follow-up session. At the very least, have some sort of handout summarizing your topic – digital or print – for each member of the audience to take home with them.

Remain Confident During the Q&A

Lastly, almost all medical speaking sessions will commence in a Q&A, and it can be the most nerve-wracking aspect of an oral presentation. Keep in mind that this is the time to keep a casual and conversational tone with your audience. Feel free to start up a lively discussion about the practical implications of your topic, and try not to shy away from questions that may seem unordinary at first, as these are the most memorable ones. Always remember that your topic is a product of your mind, your research and your hard work. No one knows it better than you.

Creating an engaging presentation should be your top priority, and with the right team, it’s easier than you think. If you choose to host your event at the Nicholson Center, we can handle all the nitty-gritty details of your session, from technical issues to refining the subject matter. Contact us to learn more about our event and CME services, or how you can be a speaker at our next symposium.


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