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Sharpening your presentation skills

Dr Colin Kenny and Pam Brown take a look at good presentation and public communication skills – a must for any GP

Dr Colin Kenny and Pam Brown take a look at good presentation and public communication skills – a must for any GP

• Great presentation and communication skills are important career-building resources.

• Learn to present well early in your career.

• To minimise nerves, prepare thoroughly.

• Only agree to present if you are confident in the subject.

• Every presentation should influence your audience's behaviour. What specifically do you want your audience to do?

• Ask the organiser:

– Who are my audience?

– What is my subject? (It may seem obvious, but most experienced speakers will admit they have got it wrong at least once!)

– How long should I speak?

– Who else is speaking? Can I see their slides? (If not, liaise directly to avoid overlap)

• Ask yourself:

– Who are my audience?

– What do I want my audience to do as a result of my presentation?

– What do I think my audience would like to know?

• For a good presentation structure:

– open with impact

– outline your structure

– state message concisely

– finish with a call to action.

• Identify possible questions and have answers ready – you may be able to ‘plant' one with the chair.

• Use PowerPoint carefully by:

– ensuring slides are clear to people in the back row

– avoiding busy backgrounds and complex transitions

– allowing one minute per slide

• Time yourself but remember it will take longer on the day

• If you need a microphone, use a clip-on one where possible. If using a fixed microphone, keep your head still

• Use the laptop screen as your prompt. Face your audience except when using the pointer.

• Self-deprecating humour can help break the ice. But telling jokes is rarely successful.

• People have very short attention spans – say as little as necessary to deliver your messages.

• Write your own introduction – the chair will be grateful and you will avoid embarrassing errors.

• If you want to improve, record or videotape your presentations.

• Get honest feedback as often as you can – and act on it.

• Enjoy the good feelings that follow a well-prepared and delivered presentation.

Dr Colin Kenny is a GP and trainer in Dromore, County Down, N Ireland

Dr Pam Brown is a GP in Swansea

Presentation skills

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