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 (

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: _________ 

Honorarium: ___________ 

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: _____________