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October 2010

Your heart is pounding, palms sweating, bright lights are shining, and a crowd of faces is waiting…..that's enough to make most people run out the door when it comes to public speaking. However, I feel that a successful practice needs to have a public representative that speaks, even if just occasionally, on its behalf. In most cases, this should be the doctor. I think you might be surprised at what I consider public speaking, so read on to find out how you can face this challenge.

You Already Do More Speaking Than You Think!
Every time you educate and speak to a patient in your exam room, you are speaking in public. Consider the times when there is an additional family member or multiple people accompanying the patient into the exam room. It's an audience! To start from the basics, I suggest building on this repartee.

If you consider the questions you encounter daily from your patient population, there are probably repeated concerns and, in turn, repeated explanations by you. The first step to brave some public speaking is to build on these everyday educational encounters. Most people just want to know the basics about their eyes. This would include what their prescription means, what options are available to them, how often should they see you, what eye diseases they are at risk for, and how they can best protect their eyes.

Start Local
A great place to start, in my opinion, would be a local networking group. Usually these groups require you to speak about yourself and your business for a minute or several minutes each meeting. This is a great way to build up your confidence in short bursts, and perfect the way to practice how to word and deliver the common messages you are sending out into the community. Remember,



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you are a part of your branding as much as your letterhead and logo, and should be consistent in the message you send.

Other local groups that welcome presentations would include Lions Clubs or Rotary groups. I've found great success and interest when presenting to these clubs in regards to having a professional speak. Another local speaking venue that has worked well for me is retirement communities. Many of these residents are living through the eye issues you are discussing, and most are interested to hear what you have to say. You may inform them in ways they've never heard and become their new "expert" resource.

If the older crowd intimidates you, consider kids' organizations. On the most basic level, explaining the eye and how it works to Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts is easy and usually helps them earn a merit badge. Don't forget to take pictures with all of these clubs and post them in your office for all to see your involvement within the community.

Build Bigger
Speaking local is fantastic for business, and many docs choose to not move beyond this realm, which is fine. However, if you have great aspirations, move onto larger audiences. Oftentimes, corporations host wellness days, or "health education" seminars and would welcome an optometrist's input. This is especially great for building business if you are a provider for their insurance plan. School settings are another larger audience opportunity, and might work well on a career day. Additionally, look to local optometric society meetings to voice your expertise. Although you are not directly marketing, colleagues may begin to see you as an expert and excellent referral choice.

Reap the Rewards!
Although you may never aspire to speak frequently in public, don't count out the impact even a couple of local engagements every year can have on your business. It's cost effective, helps to make your practice stand-out, and sets you apart as the ocular expert. You have the knowledge base; simply sharing this information on a more public level can help launch your practice to success.

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