Have you considered giving a lecture or just speaking to a group to boost your exposure? Here are some valuable tips to consider before standing in front of the crowd.
Know your purpose
What do you hope to accomplish? Do you want to convince people to become patients, advocate the profession to other health-care practitioners, increase public awareness, or simply entertain? Your purpose will affect basic elements of the lecture as content, presentation style, audience and time.
Know your audience?
Age, gender and education are some of the demographics to consider of your group in order to present information that is interesting or relevant to them. An audience of retired individuals will have different concerns than a significantly younger group. An audience will enjoy and remember information that is most relevant to them, interesting or entertaining. Remember the audience is thinking “what’s in this for me?”
Know your content
You should have a vast reserve of knowledge regarding the topic you are planning to present. This will give you more flexibility in your presentation and confidence that you can answer questions effectively. Prepare for questions that are beyond the scope of the lecture; some members of the audience may already know the topic you are presenting. You don’t want to find yourself scratching your head in confusion. That can shake your confidence and the audience’s confidence as well.
Choose a topic you like. This will make research and presentation enjoyable. If you’re having a good time your audience will too.
Know your time
In order not to run short or over time it’s important to know about how much time you are going to dedicate for each section of the lecture. It’s also important to prioritize that information in order to skip material if necessary without sacrificing relevant content.
Here is a sample of a simple 1 hour lecture: 10 minutes before start small talk asking about experiences, Start with introduction 5 minutes, experiences from audience 5 minutes, first demonstration 10 minutes, second demonstration 10 minutes, lecture 25 minutes, questions and scheduling 15 minutes.
Guide your audience
Arrange information so that topics are logically connected. Topics can develop, refine, support, contrast each other or serve as components of a more general topic. The goal is to avoid confusion because the listener is going to connect each topic with the previous and if they have difficulty determining the connection then they are not paying attention.
Have transition phrases
Transition phrases will provide smooth changes from one topic to another. This eliminates confusion of as to why there was a change. An example is “now that we finished topic A we can go on to topic B” or “are there any questions before we move on”.
Prepare for questions
There is a balance to reach when considering questions. You can answer questions at specific points, throughout, or at the end. Questions allow lively interaction and reveals areas of interest but also requires careful time-management per question and in relation to total lecture-time. Too much time spent on questions can reduce overall structure and content. Too little time for questions can leave an audience feeling dissatisfied.
Predicting questions regarding the content also provides guidance in developing content.
The introduction is easy to neglect while preparing the content of a lecture but it is equally important. The introduction establishes you as an authority of the information you are about to present. Information to mention includes your name, educational background, state license, length of practice, specialization or primary interest and meaningful accomplishments; essentially your resume. The information from the introduction will help them remember you when they leave at the conclusion of the lecture.
Present Anecdotes-Personal and from the audience
Personal treatment anecdotes keeps the lecture lively, spontaneous and more entertaining than reading from prepared notes. It also illustrates your experience. Choose anecdotes that are relevant to the content and the audience. Otherwise your audience will become confused or bored.
Hearing success stories from the audience itself adds more validity to your presentation. Afterall, your word is not the only one they have to believe. It is nice to hear a variety of ailments to foster the notion that Oriental Medicine is not limited to one type of ailment. It also provides an opportunity to address instances that have not yielded success.
Demonstrations are powerful tools. As the saying goes “seeing is believing”.
One demonstration is to insert a needle into an acupuncture point as LI10 into all willing audience members to demonstrate that the needle is virtually painless. Be prepared for many willing participants. Another demonstration is to use any of the “one needle moving techniques” for an individual. However, it is important to avoid appearing unprofessional by allowing demonstrations to become “parlor tricks”.
Watch Your Audience
An audience that is interested in your lecture is apparent. Their eyes are focused on you and are listening intently. By watching them closely you are not only maintaining eye contact but can use their response to guide you content. This is another reason to have a vast wealth of content available. You can develop topics of interest to them and summarize less interesting topics. This also helps for future lectures.
Know yourself and be true to yourself
Before you present a lecture or speak to a group it’s good to take a look at yourself inside and out. There is body language, voice, and general appearance to consider. With reflection and thought you can modify some weaknesses fairly easily or integrate them with strengths into an effective style. If you’re soft-spoken consider a small clip-on portable microphone, if you don’t move much you can refer to hand-held notes, cue cards or use a pointer. If your gestures are distracting put a hand in your pocket occasionally. If you are extraverted present yourself as confident, if you are mellow present yourself as thoughtful. But most importantly, be yourself- an artificial facade will usually show as insincerity.
As you speak to groups you will feel more comfortable and your style will develop. Sometimes you will have great success, sometimes not; but you will always get experience. I like to say “experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want”. So you never walk away empty-handed.
Take some time to reflect after a presentation. Compare yourself to yourself by yourself for yourself. You can use this as an opportunity to not only compare one presentation to the last to become a better speaker but instead one day to the last to become a better person.