GSS Insight - Physician Services Articles
Win funding by improving your presentation skills
If you’ve ever had to go before a board or committee to ask for funding – for research, capital improvements, expensive new equipment – you know it can be a daunting experience.
There are some key differences between this kind of presentation and most others – especially clinical presentations to peers. Following are some strategies and techniques that will maximize your chances of succeeding.
Encourage discussion, not just an ‘information dump’
Never present PowerPoint slides that resemble “eye charts” – busy, tiny-font slides that no one can read from farther than 10 feet. With PowerPoint, less is more, and appealing graphics are king.
Intersperse some questions in your slides to engage the audience. They can be either opinion questions or factual questions that let people show how much they know.
Ask for feedback periodically. For example, “Would you like me to go into this further, or shall I move on to the next slide?”
Occasionally follow up audience questions by asking them a question – but only after you answer the initial one.
Display self-confidence, humility and passion
Self-confidence and humility may at first sound like a contradiction, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Together they comprise a balance that makes a person both admired and liked.
Self-confidence comes from knowing your subject thoroughly and practicing your presentation until you’re comfortable with it.
Humility involves respect for the audience. One element of this is refusing to become defensive when challenged. Cushion critical audience comments with something like “I can see why you might think that, but let me explain why I don’t think it’s the case.”
The third personality ingredient, passion, means showing that you care deeply about the issues. Smile, show some feeling, use a variety of facial expressions. This comes naturally for some people – others of us have to be deliberate about it.
Engage both sides of listeners’ brains
Facts, numbers and information are all processed mainly by the left brain. If you want a whole-brain audience, you have to engage their right brain as well.
Do this with stories, analogies and metaphors. Paint a picture with words – known as “show, don’t tell” to writers. Bring some humor into it.
Acknowledge the elephants in the room
An elephant is any potential drawback in what you are proposing that is out in the open for anyone who is attentive. For example, you’re asking for money for research, but you don’t yet have a facility in which to do the research. The best strategy with elephants is to bring them up and discuss them in the best light you can.
Delay revealing any skeletons in the closet
Skeletons are potential drawbacks that no one in the audience could know at this point but they will undoubtedly find out later. Here, the best strategy is usually to wait.
Let them see all the good things you’re proposing. Give them a chance to form a positive impression first, and explain the skeletons at a better time.
An analogy can be made with a first date – you probably wouldn’t tell someone on the first date that you’re being sued for malpractice. If the relationship progresses, they will need to know eventually, but let them get to know and like you first.
All of the preceding are just goals to aim for. You don’t have to be perfect. Just relax, be sincere and do your best. And good luck.
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