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Friday, May 14, 2010

Presentation at work! and public speaking tips

For most of you, a presentation is NO BIG DEAL. That's part of working life, right? Not for pharmacists! I was always struck by my classmates' terror at public speaking, but that's normal in pharmacy. When's the last time you saw a pharmacist giving a speech, afterall?
Because of the rarity, it's easy to impress if you happen to be the pharmacist giving the presentation. I gave one yesterday at our district meeting and it went swimingly. I presented to all of our district's pharmacy managers, and my district supervisors were thrilled. I even received a congratulatory email from another pharmacist - it was the nicest email; he is nearing retirement age and the gist of the email was that he was confident in our profession if he could leave in the hands of pharmacists like me. So sweet!
(I am 100% for complimenting people if you think of something nice to say because it just might make their day. What nice and unexpected compliments have you received recently?)
But anyway. I do love me some public speaking. Give me a microphone and a laser pointer and I'll do my thang. My public speaking and teaching experience has led me to compile the following speaking tips:
1. Introduce yourself to connect with your audience. Not everyone knows who you are or why you should be teaching/presenting to them. Yesterday I mentioned "floating" to most of the pharmacists stores, but I also pointed out my qualifications so the audience could understand why I was selected to present the info.
2. Get attention in your first slide - a stunning statistic or a graphic; if your slide is uninteresting ask a question that requires audience answers. You want your audience awake.
3. HUMILITY. There are always one or two members of the audience who know so much more than you! Yesterday I kept that in mind because I was essentially teaching managers who had been pharmacists for years longer than I.
4. Do not speed up if you feel like you're running out of time towards the end of your presentation. Omit info if you must, but keep your enunciation and speaking pace the same.
5. Add an attention getter 3/4 into the presentation (question, joke, anecdote) to recapture those whose minds wandered.
6. Make eye contact with several members of the audience as you speak. Smile, laugh, move around. The podium will kill you. If your presentation is over 30 minutes switch sides of the stage half way through.
7. Never tilt your chin down. If you have to glance at your notes briefly move your eyes down. Putting your head down makes you look shy, unprepared, and withdrawn; losing that face-to-face contact will lose your audience.
8. When you make an important point, move towards the audience. It's like speaking in bold font.
9. Skip the objectives, outline, and summary. If you're well-prepared you shouldn't need to tell us what you're going to tell us about, and you sure shouldn't have to recap what you just told us. If the material is so varied that an outline is needed to follow the topic, put it in a handout instead.
10. Under no circumstances ever should you provide a handout of your slides. How redundant can you get?! A handout should only be given to provide additional information, allow note taking, or if graphic slides need to be reproduced for clarity. I almost always give a take-home handout for future reference; I want my audience looking at me or at my slides, not a piece of paper. It's bad if they look down, too!
What are your best public speaking tips and tricks? Do you love it? Do you hate it?


  1. I love public speaking! These were the best tips I've read in a long, long time!!

    PS - what a compliment! Congrats!!!

  2. Dang, you are good! I can tell by your tips. Can I hire you the next time I have to speak? Cause I do ALL of the don'ts. :-)

  3. I also really enjoy public speaking. I was in Toastmasters in college so that really helped me develop public speaking skills.

    Those are all great tips. I think my pet peeve is when people put way too much text on a power point slide - or if they basically read what's on the slide to you. I think it's sort of demeaning to do that. I like to have a couple of bullet points on a slide & then will expound upon them v. typing it all out!

    It's so nice to get unexpected, genuine comments like that. I can't say I've had any of those recently!!

  4. Lisa - you are SO right - I feel like telling these presenters "I CAN READ!" I tend to use my powerpoint more for what it was made to do...exhibit graphs, images, outlines, etc. Again, you know how I feel about redundancy!