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Often times physicians are asked to speak to an audience of consumers. This can be at the request of a specific organization or for a patient seminar given as part of a practice's internal marketing initiative. By following a few simple tips, speakers can turn an average talk into a great talk, regardless of the topic.


There's an adage that says: “When giving a presentation, tell them what you are going to tell them, then tell them, and then tell them what you told them.” Although there is wisdom in these words, there is more to giving a presentation than just repetitive “telling.” The goal of a talk should be to educate audiences about a specific topic in an effort to interest them in a treatment or consultation.

Preparation. First, it is important to decide on a specific theme for the presentation. Presenters should ask themselves the question: “What do I want my audience to learn?” Selecting a broad topic like facial rejuvenation provides the opportunity for highlighting several treatments or procedures and will likely draw a larger audience. A narrower subject will reduce the number of attendees, but odds are they will be prime targets for the featured treatment or procedure. Whatever the topic, the presenter should select a few before-and-after photos to accompany the talk. The practice's photos are far more impactful than those a company might supply. Each set of photos should include specific information about the patient, including age, reason for visit (e.g., unhappy with the appearance of lines and wrinkles, etc.), the specific treatment or combination of treatments used, and the patient's “quotable” result.

Subject matter. Take the time to organize and rehearse, rehearse, and rehearse again so the presentation flows well. It is important that the speaker is confident in the delivery of the material. It is not recommended to simply quote from the slides. Instead, use the slides as an outline to prompt the presentation.

Facility preparation. An early arrival can ensure that the room setup is conducive to the presentation's goal(s) and all audio visual equipment is operational. A registration area to welcome patients to the event and capture their demographic information is advised. Utilization of a cosmetic interest questionnaire (CIQ) will capture the consumer's contact information including email addresses and the necessary releases to market to them. The CIQ not only provides a means for follow up, but also acts as a cross-marketing tool by exposing the attendees to the practice's menu of service offerings.

Speech Components

Introduction. In the beginning of most presentations, speakers take a few minutes to credential themselves so attendees get a chance to learn about the their qualifications and expertise including length of time with the practice, specialties and passions, etc. This also is the time to introduce other key staff members in attendance and credential them as well. An example would be to introduce the patient care coordinator or aesthetician.

Presentation. Experienced presenters understand the importance of the following elements and/or techniques.

Use patient-friendly language. Don't think that using a lot of medical jargon will impress consumers. Use language they can understand. Remember, the goal is to educate.
Always be aware of posture, body language, tone, and speed of speech. Statistics show that 97 percent of what we hear is from the tone and body language of the speaker—not the words used. This is another good reason to rehearse your presentation.
Use detail. When discussing procedures, explain each procedure in detail, what condition(s) it addresses, all side effects that could occur, and the expected recovery or outcome time frame.
• Incorporate patient stories that describe the treatment or procedure. Explain how the procedure made them feel. Patients remember stories.
Consider adding patient satisfaction statistics and testimonials to the message. This highlights physician expertise and shows that the practice listens to and monitors its patients. Although it's tempting for physicians to tell consumers that they repair unsuccessful procedures from other practices, this can have a negative effect by scaring the consumer away from the procedure altogether.
Involve the audience by asking questions, when possible. This keeps them engaged in the material and helps them understand how they might benefit from a procedure. Interactive audience participation and engagement almost always enhances a program. Remember, the focus of the talk is not the speaker—it's the audience.
Closing. All presentations should come to an end with a closing segment. This can be as simple as restating the theme or focus of the presentation. In addition, it is important to offer attendees a “next step,” which might include:
• Letting the audience know that the physician will be available afterward to answer any specific questions. This helps the physician make a more personal connection with attendees.
• Inviting anyone interested to schedule a consultation.
• Offering to mail or email additional procedure information to the attendee.


Whether making a presentation on behalf of a group or talking at a patient seminar, speakers should be prepared to put their best foot forward. Utilizing these tips can help speakers exude confidence, make a good first impression, and connect with the audience.

Vicki Guin is a management consultant with the Allergan Practice Consulting Group of Allergan, Inc.

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