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How to...give a talk

Even GPs who do not see themselves as teachers or lecturers may be asked to give a talk. It might be to a voluntary group, to a patients group or to students. Before refusing, or turning up reluctantly and reading from notes, learn a few tricks of the trade instead.

Even GPs who do not see themselves as teachers or lecturers may be asked to give a talk. It might be to a voluntary group, to a patients group or to students. Before refusing, or turning up reluctantly and reading from notes, learn a few tricks of the trade instead.

1 Be interested in the subject. If you are bored your audience will be too.

2 Get into focus the aim of your talk. Are you trying to impart factual information? Are you trying to explain a concept? Do you want to whet your audiences appetite, providing them with a taster so that they gain insight into a new area?

3 Unless it is an academic lecture presenting new research findings, there is no point in reading from prepared notes. Instead, concentrate on elucidating concepts and transmitting enthusiasm. Use a this subject is worth knowing approach. A good lecturer can make the audience think about a subject and want to read around it.

4 If you are using PowerPoint, dont read from the slides. Slides are just an aide-memoire that allow you to expand on the points made. The presentation needs to be conversational, as if you are telling a story to someone. Have a printout of the slides in front of you and scribble reminders in the margin rather than whole sentences that will need to be read.

5 Use personal experience and anecdotes. They may not be evidence-based but they can be useful teaching aids.

6 Rehearse the talk aloud before giving it for real.

7 Do not speak too slowly or too quickly. Vary the pitch. Scanning the audience is helpful and a good speaker will have a feel for the audience in the same way that we get a feel for how the patient is responding in a consultation.

8.Even GPs who do not see themselves as teachers or lecturers may be asked to give a talk. It might be to a voluntary group, to a patients group or to students. Before refusing, or turning up reluctantly and reading from notes, learn a few tricks of the trade instead. Give your talk a good beginning. Humour is also vital. It is often useful to start with a personal anecdote.

9 After the start of the talk give a short summary of the structure ¬ ŒI will start off discussing this and move onto that. The audience then has a road map.

10 Dont allow the lecture to fizzle out, but finish with a specific take-home point. The audience likes to know the talk has come to an end!

However charismatic the speaker is, audiences flag after about 20 minutes, so use various wiles to keep their attention. It may be useful to ask the audience an open question and listen to their answers.

Dr Peter Moore is a GP in Torquay, Devon

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