Public speaking can be difficult and even intimidating, but anyone can be successful if they know how to prepare. A new analysis published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology detailed some key areas to focus on if you want to deliver the best radiology lecture possible.
“Let us acknowledge that public speaking is an anxiety-producing experience for most of us,” wrote authors Richard E. Heller III, MD, MBA, of Radiology Partners in El Segundo, California, and Ezequiel Silva III, MD, of South Texas Radiology Group in San Antonio, Texas. “This is especially true when delivering a talk to our physician colleagues. We fear the potential of embarrassing ourselves in front of our peers. There is no avoiding the anxiety, but we can learn to deal with it through diligent preparation.”
The topic should focus on three major entities—focusing on the interests and sophistication of the audience, picking a topic that reflects the interests and expertise of the presenter and determining the goals the presenter wishes to achieve.
Additionally, the researchers noted, if the material has been presented before, both content and appearance should be updated. Humor should also be kept to a minimum, because it could divert the audience from the message. “Although the adage ‘If they’re laughing, they’re listening’ is true, it does not imply that they are learning,” Heller and Silva wrote.
The presenter must remember to speak to the audience, rather than looking at the screen or the podium. “Full attention should be on the audience, and that means facing them at all times. Do not read verbatim from either the slides or prepared notes,” the authors noted. “This breaks down the connection between the speaker and audience and promotes audience disengagement.”
Aside from rehearsal, which encourages confidence, the researchers noted timing of the presentation is also very important. The presenter should never speak past their allotted time, and it is critical to remember that the audience will remember what the presenter has to say in the first few minutes and last minutes. An interesting anecdote at the beginning and a strong ending note will grab and keep the audience’s attention.
Audiences appreciate organization, the authors wrote. Using cards to write notes while creating digital slides can help develop the presentation. The presenter should also ask what visual aids, if any, are necessary.
“Slides have become so de rigueur in medical presentations that radiologists simply assume they are necessary,” the authors noted. A careful speaker will know which slides are really necessary for an effective, informational lecture.
Also, radiographic images should be clear, cropped to the area of interest and HIPAA compliant. And the number of images should be limited per slide—at most, up to four can be included if no single image is greater than 25 percent of the slide area.
“Delivering a presentation that is educational, memorable, and even inspiring is the aspiration of all speakers," the two authors concluded. "Like so many daunting activities, success is achievable if you are willing to invest the time and energy to prepare. We believe that adherence to the principles outlined in this article, including a focus on content, delivery, and design, will help you to succeed."