Checklist for Public Speaking
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Neil Baum, MD, and Neeraj Kohli, MD, MBA
Neil Baum, MD, is Clinical Associate Professor of Urology, Tulane Medical School, New Orleans, LA, and author of Marketing Your Clinical Practice-Ethically, Effectively, and Economically, Jones Bartlett Publishers.
Neeraj Kohli, MD, MBA, is Director, Division of Urogynecology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Assistant Professor, Department of Ob/Gyn, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.
Most doctors and healthcare professionals pride themselves as being good communicators. After all, that is how we take a history and then discuss our findings with our patients and provide them with advice for restoring or maintaining their health. Except for bedside presentations to faculty or a presentation at grand rounds, most of us have received little formal training on public speaking. In addition, few of us (except those doctors who have had media training) are able to speak or are comfortable in front of the TV camera. For the most part, public speaking is a learned skill, and with just a little practice and preparation, all of us can become good or even excellent public speakers. By improving our public speaking skills, we can learn how to make a presentation in front of peers and before lay audiences and not panic when we are in front of the TV camera.
The best speakers are prepared, and there is no better way to prepare yourself than to use a checklist. I (NB) have given dozens of programs to my colleagues and I have learned the hard way how important it is to have a checklist of everything you need to know about your program, what you need to bring, what to send to the meeting planner, and contingencies if something goes wrong or is forgotten.
The following is the checklist I use and can be easily modified for any physician-speaker. If I have left anything out, please let me (NB) hear from you (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Example of a Checklist for Public Speaking
Date of Program: _________
Title of Program: _________
Venue (name, location, phone number): ________
Meeting Planner: _________
Contact Information for Meeting Planner: _________
Objectives of Meeting Planner: __________
Size of Audience: ___________
Makeup of Audience (urologists, primary care physicians, lay audience,
mixed, etc): ________
Time Allotted for the Program: __________
Travel Information (flight number, time of departure, airlines, time of arrival for
both leaving from and returning to New Orleans): ___________
Hotel Name, Address, Phone Number, and Reservation
Confirmation Number: _________
Other Anticipated Expenses (meals, taxis, hotel): ____________
Handout (send copy to meeting planner and bring extra copy
to program): __________
Introduction (copy sent to meeting planner or introducer, bring extra hard
copy to program): _____________
Slides (chip or CD): ____________
Audiovisual Needs (computer, LCD projector, screen, duct tape for cords,
extension cord, microphone): ____________
Visuals to Bring: ____________
Stories and Anecdotes to Include: _____________
Cards With Questions to Hand Out to Audience Members to Start the
Q & A Session: __________
Sign-in Sheet to Gather Names and E-mail Addresses of All Who Attend
the Meeting: ___________
Business Cards: ____________
Copy of My Book on Medical Marketing: _____________