So, you’ve been invited to speak at a medical conference. Congratulations! Now it’s time to start preparing to give an exceptional presentation. A successful conference presentation entails much more than just knowing your subject matter. We will outline some steps to ensure that you make your next presentation the best it can be.
Make an Outline and Stick to it
Plan ahead what the main points of your presentation will be, what are the few key takeaways you want the audience to remember. Then structure an outline around this message. You may be tempted to add more to it. Don’t. It is important to keep your focus.
Less is More with Slides
A good rule of thumb is to have one slide for every one minute allotted for your presentation. Think carefully what you want each of these slides to represent. Illustrations are more appealing to your audience than a lot of text. Use your slides to engage the audience, give key points, and keep you on track. Plan to fill in the rest with your speech.
People are more likely to be engaged if they can relate to what you are teaching. Give case studies, and strive to humanize your data. Your audience will be more drawn in and interested.
Know Your Audience
It is important to tailor your presentation to the audience. Are you presenting to a group of physicians who are up to date with the latest research? Or is your audience mixed with different disciplines of healthcare professionals with varied backgrounds? Maybe you are presenting to a group of students. Your goal is to teach the audience or explain your research in a manner that is easy to understand. Perhaps there are some attendees that do not use English as their first language. Speak clearly and directly to the audience you have.
You must gain the attention and confidence of your audience very early in your presentation, so it is vital that you start strong. Tell yourself ahead of time “I am excited!” Start off with a smile as you introduce yourself. Breathe deeply. If you are excited and confident about your topic, you will gain the trust and attention of the audience and the whole presentation will go more smoothly. But don’t rush!
Practice Makes Perfect
It may sound like a cliché, but there is no substitute for practice before giving a presentation. A good rule of thumb is to rehearse your talk at least three times- in front of a mirror, your family, your colleagues, or on video. Focus on your pacing and timing. Decide what makes you feel most comfortable, standing behind a podium or walking around. Get familiar with your venue if possible. Practice with laser pointers, microphones, and projectors if you will be using them.
Handling the Q & A
Sometimes the Q&A part of a presentation can seem like the most daunting. But don’t worry! No one is more of an expert on your material than you. Plan the answers to a variety of questions beforehand. Give your audience another way to get in contact with you to ask more questions after you present. Social media is a great way to keep the conversation going. When your presentation is over, hang around and make yourself approachable to people who may be hesitant to ask questions in a group.
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