By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
How to succeed at public speaking, enhance your reputation and produce new revenue
Successful public speaking can be easier than you think. Natural anxiety aside, speaking is a useful and effective marketing tool for a meaningful connection with professional peers and prospective patients in the community. Attracting new patients and professional referrals is more about what you have to say than how well you say it.
Believe it or not, there’s really little to fear and much to be gained from public speaking.
Speaking is a marketing strategy that presents you (your reputation, your brand, your personality) in a comfortable environment—no “white coat” issues. Speaking adds to and extends your credibility. It’s a useful tool for the individual practitioner, a representative of a physical group practice, a healthcare organization, or any number of individuals representing a hospital outreach to the community it serves.
And above all, it’s an opportunity to showcase your professional knowledge and share some part of this knowledge with the audience.
Professional practitioners on the podium—at least sometimes—overlook the fact that the audience cares more about what you have to say than about how well you say it.
So relax a little. Consider these eight tips for maximum marketing mileage, and polished speaker or not, you’ll likely be a hit with the crowd. And you’ll win new patients and/or referrals at your next public speaking gig without “selling.”
- Know your audience. We mean really know your audience. A luncheon talk with the local civic leaders assembly is a different animal than a poster presentation at the professional society annual meeting. But no matter what the venue or size of the audience, you want to be crystal clear about what they are looking for and how you can help them. If you know why you were asked to speak, you can frame your message to meet and exceed their expectations.
- Create a timely topic and “grabber” title. Knowing what’s important to the audience, shape your talk to a subject that commands attention; and the timelier the better. This will be a subject where your expertise can show through. And give your talk a title that sizzles. Like the headline in an advertisement, a title should get attention and offer a benefit.
- Write your own introduction. Someone else will say these words, but your speech actually begins here. The introduction sets the stage for what you’re prepared to present, begins to shape expectations, provides context, and it connects you and your credentials to the audience and the subject matter. Keep it brief and focused.
- Use the Problem-Solution-Why You format. Taking another page from advertising, a problem-solution format allows you to first define the issue and then present answers. It’s a natural platform to provide the audience with valuable information (the solutions) where you are the authority.
- Tell stories. Look for ways to illustrate your talk (especially the solutions) with interesting stories from your experience or practice. It adds real-life credibility to talk about how you did something or what happened to you.
- Keep your comments focused and structured. A rule of thumb is to present no more than three core ideas. Even numbering them helps the audience keep in sync with the progress of your talk.
- Deliver a gem. Everyone came for something, so deliver at least one gem of an idea—and make it impressive, useful and helpful. This is the big payoff to the audience question of “what’s in it for them?” Wrap this benefit-gem into your closing comments to make it even more memorable and fulfilling.
- Have handouts available after. This may be your practice brochure, or a supply of pertinent patient education pamphlets—something that is germane to your talk and/or your gem. Attach or include your business card or contact information.
Bonus idea: For additional value capture your speech material on video and post it—in slices if needed—on your practice, hospital website and YouTube channel.
There’s a spot in every marketing plan for public speaking; typically it’s low-cost, produces a high Return-on-Investment (ROI) and extends your reputation. Practices that present at civic and community organizations come away with new patients, and a presentation to peer groups inspires professional referrals.
If you’d like us to join you on the podium, we’re available to speak to healthcare organizations and groups about healthcare marketing.