Overcoming public speaking fears


It can be intimidating, but public speaking makes you more a more visible and successful veterinarian.

Veterinary practice owners who lecture regularly tend to be more successful. They're more highly regarded and they get more new clients. If you're considering public speaking, try these tips:

1. Learn who's listening. Meet as many people in the audience as possible before your speech and remember their names. Familiarity with your audience helps you relax.

2. Ask for participation. Get a show of hands. The question you pose isn't as important as the participation. Questions bring audience members back from their daydreams.

3. Change up the pace. The speaker who drones on and on has a soporific effect on an audience. To avoid this, vary the pace. Talk fast. Talk slow. Talk high. Talk low. Ask a rhetorical question in a whisper.

4. Show them something. Pick up the pitcher of water placed at your podium and s-l-o-w-l-y pour yourself a glass of water. Drink the water. Or put it down. Think of it as a prop to get the audience's attention.

5. Don't sweat the distractions. I've seen them all: construction workers carrying a ladder through the room, the lights going out, cell phones ringing, a dead microphone. When these things happen, if the opportunity lends itself, join in—say "hi" to the construction workers. But never continue as if nothing happened.

6. Use technology sparingly. Great speakers personalize their lectures and presentations by engaging audience members. It's not the diagrams, statistics, and bullet points on a projected screen that make listeners tune in—it's you.

Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Bob Levoy is author of 222 Secrets of Hiring, Managing, and Retaining Great Employees in Healthcare Practices (Jones and Bartlett, 2007).

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