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How to Be The Best Speaker At Your Next Medical Conference

Being selected as a presenter at a medical conference is a big honor.

Being selected to present is also a big responsibility. The other conference attendees have invested a lot in this conference. In addition to paying for travel, lodging, and conference registration, they are taking time away from their practices, patients, and possibly students to spend time at the conference. They are also a knowledgeable audience who are eager to hear your insights.

You are undoubtedly confident in your own expertise in your subject, and have spoken about it, formally or informally, many times. However, anyone can get stage fright when put in front of a large audience of strangers. Instead of giving the cohesive, clear talk that you had intended, you might be anxious that your presentation will be inarticulate and bumbling. A bit of extra practice and preparation can help you deliver the talk you and your audience are hoping for, and these five tips can help.

1. Organize in chunks of three.

When you are discussing an advanced medical topic, nobody will be able to remember long lists of concepts or topics. Similarly, you are unlikely to be able to remember a very detailed set of concepts when you are nervous and on the spot. Instead, break your talk into three main ideas to make your talk more understandable to your audience and easier for you to remember. Further break those into three main points each and place these points on note cards so that you can quickly refer to them if needed.

2. Customize your presentation.

As you develop your talk, be sure that you know the backgrounds and interests of your audience. The most effective talks hit the sweet spot between being too simple to be of value and being too detailed for anyone but a lifelong expert to understand.

3. Use good slide presentation practices.

You want your slides to be big enough to see while containing enough information to be a good supplement to your explanations. Check for these things in your practice sessions well before the conference date.

4. Respect your audience’s time.

In your practice sessions, carefully watch the clock and make necessary adjustments until your talk is the proper length. Do your best to start on time by arriving early and completely prepared. Chances are, you may start late through no fault of your own if the speaker before you ended late. Anticipate this scenario and have a back-up plan to shorten your presentation if needed. Members of the audience will appreciate ending on time so that they can make it to their next lecture, event, or appointment.

5. Be prepared for technical problems.

In addition to arriving early to the lecture hall with plenty of time to spare, account for technical problems. Be prepared for hiccups with technical aspects, such as the microphone system or the computer that you are supposed to use to project your slides. Have multiple copies of your presentation; in addition to the one that you sent to the lecture organizer, email yourself a copy and put a copy on a USB drive.

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