There’s lots of great physicians out there. Yet, some are more well-known, effective, and respected than others. Chances are, when you see a particularly successful doctor, they have mastered one of the several professional and medical business skills and have leveraged this to advance their careers. One of the most vital skills that you can learn as a physician is public speaking. There is a heavy demand for physicians that can educate, entertain, and engage an audience. Whether it’s local grand rounds, national conferences, or community groups- the ability to effectively communicate and present to an audience is one of the most valuable talents you can possess.
HINT: I’ll give you my secret tip to really accelerate your lecturing career at the end of this article.
The benefits of joining the “lecture circuit” are tremendous. Every member in that audience is a potential referring physician or patient. If you can connect with them, you’ll be granted immediate expert status. I’ve had physicians refer me patients from across the country after attending a conference. When you lecture, you are often invited to attend the entire conference with complimentary hotel and travel. It’s a great way to get a top class continuing education. You also get to meet attendees and fellow presenters, some of them personal heroes and top researchers. These contacts and networks can be a tremendous resource in advancing your career. Finally, several lecture opportunities provide financial compensation for the time, effort, and loss of patient revenue spent preparing and giving the lecture. You’ll never get rich on the lecture circuit (at least as a physician, a politician is another beast!), but you can receive enough to make it worthwhile.
How do you get your physician speaking “brand” out there? Let assume that you are already interested in lecturing, took a course in public speaking, and have some serious PowerPoint skills. What are your next steps?
- Start a website and list your lecture topics. You need to establish your physician social media presence anyway. You can use Facebook or LinkedIn for this, but I’d recommend you start your own web page. Name one of the menu items “Lectures” and name one of your sub-menus “Lecture Topics”. On this page list your lecture topics. Write a short paragraph to explain your goals and the intended audience.
- Create media content. Narrate a presentation on PowerPoint or a video of yourself presenting a lecture. Although you could video a presentation for a live audience, I’d recommend you do this specifically for video to ensure proper sound and lighting. You won’t need to get fancy here. A simple video camera and lapel microphone will do. You probably could speak with the AV department at your hospital or local community groups like the Rotary club or American Medical Association to assist. Make the editing simple. Post these videos to YouTube and link on your website
- Update your website. Add new lectures constantly. If you lecture someplace interesting or impressive, be certain to list this on your site under the lecture topic. Provide social proof of the quality of your lectures by including letters, testimonials, or comments about the quality of your presentations.
- Quality Improvement is a continuous process. Review your lectures and the comments you receive. Watch other lecturers and learn from them. Master the use of animations. Learn how to interject appropriate humor. Develop e-books to go along with your presentations.
- Advertise yourself. Be certain to add links to your website when you lecture. If you wish to be subtle, you can post the URL at the end of the presentation with the statement that you can be contacted there for questions, a list of references for the presentation, a link to your e-book, or as a contact site for anyone interested in booking you for a lecture.
- Make booking easy. Be sure to make it easy for someone to book you for a lecture. Include an email link asking visitors to email you for information on booking you to speak. After the initial contact, be sure to have a standard email explaining your needs- AV requirement, sound systems, transportation, hotels, and any speaker fees. Be responsive, polite, professional, and reliable. Try to remain flexible and be sure to speak pro bono when appropriate.
Becoming a recognized physician lecturer is a rewarding way to launch your career. It’s a great way to improve your national reputation, become recognized as an expert, meet the top innovators in your field, and travel while learning. It can also be a lot fun and personally rewarding. The development of material and presentation requires hard work and dedication, but can really pay off. Harness your natural communication skills and leverage them to take your career to the next level.
Don’t stop with just Public speaking…. Learn other medical and professional business skills to round out your skill set and really succeed in your career.
Bonus Tip: This is a technique I discovered that really accelerated my lecturing career. Once I started doing this, I found that I had more high-quality lecture requests than I could handle. Here’s the awesome sauce- Once I had several lectures on YouTube and had a good portfolio of lecture topics, I started searching for conferences and events where I wanted to speak. I would send them an email or letter with a request to speak at their next conference and included a list of topics and a link to my lectures. The response was tremendous! If I could get in touch with the right conference personnel with enough time, I was very successful. Try it yourself and let me know how it works for you.
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