15 Tips for Giving a Great Talk

Practice owners, who are skilled public speakers, have the most popular practices in town. They make themselves known, generate a positive image and attract more new patients. As a skilled speaker, you can:

  • Conduct seminars on new technical discoveries, techniques or equipment
  • Hold workshops for existing patients or the general public
  • Generate referrals by giving talks to study clubs and professional groups
  • Create positive energy in staff meetings and much more

To improve your speaking skills, use these 15 tips.

1. Ensure you will be excited and happy to give the talk. If you do not want to be there, neither will your group.

2. Set a goal for each talk. A poor goal: “Impress the group with my expertise.” Better goals: “Give the group something they can use” or “Most of the audience members call and set an appointment.”

3. Prepare your material or remarks. Write the specific words you wish to use for your opening and closing. Write an outline with bullet points for the rest of the talk. Memorize the opening and closing so you start and end with confidence. For the rest of your speech, speak conversationally from your outline.

4. Research your information. Vague or general statements are not as effective as specific facts and figures.

5. Prepare more material than you need. Cutting back is easy, but adding new material during the talk can be disastrous.

6. Practice the talk with your spouse, a friend or your consultant. Work out what you will say and then say it at least once so you do not stumble during the talk.

7. Write down the questions you expect your group to ask. Work out the answers in advance. You can guess 80% of the questions.

8. Tell funny stories or jokes about yourself and the audience will like you.

9. When speaking to a small group, get everyone’s name, note them on a paper in front of you and use them frequently. For large groups, get and use the names of a few people scattered around the room. Ideally, get the names of the leaders or people who are well-known by the audience.

10. Make a point and then repeat it with stories, case histories, demonstrations and so on.

11. To keep the group listening, get them to participate. Ask for a show of hands. Have them fill out forms. Demonstrate a piece of equipment. Have them repeat important sentences.

12. Do not be afraid to loosen up. To be a good speaker, you need to be a bit of an actor. You must put on a show! You appear boring if you try to be a superior teacher, advisor or expert.

13. If only a few people show up, give them a great talk. Sit around a table or in a circle and make it more intimate. Even if only one person shows up, give a great presentation. Give him or her something valuable.

14. At the end of your talk, tell your audience what you want them to do. Explain how, why, when, who and where. Describe the costs. Explain how easy or difficult it will be to do. Most importantly, cover the benefits. Answer the question your group has, “What’s in it for me?”

15. Control the conclusion of your talk. Do not end with, “Any questions?” Too many things can go wrong. Instead, give your closing remarks and then say, “Thank you.” Your audience will applaud.