Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Speaking with Authority: 10 Behaviors HealthIT Speakers Should Adopt to Own the Room

Imagine being asked to deliver a speech on HealthIT. As a professional, the next common sense question would be, "In which area of IT would you like me to concentrate?" Now imagine the conference promoter answers, "Whatever you think our audience would like." That very scenario happened to me recently but instead of panicking, not sure whether I could produce a speech within the time frame given, I decided to take it on as a challenge. Achieving that goal also gave me an opportunity to query: What does resonate with HIT audiences and are there universal standards speakers can use to own the room on any HIT subject? I decided all speeches needed to address two areas: the subject and the visual. The following outlines behaviors I feel will work for all speakers, while being flexible on time constraints.

Subject: The three Ps
  1. Passion: Are you passionate about a particular HIT subject? It is easier to deliver on a subject you actually like.
  2. Popularity: Will your audience like the subject? All HIT subject-matter is not created equal. Try to stick with subjects that are popular or are currently affecting the industry. For example, more people will show up to hear a speech on how to protect systems from ransomware than will show up for how to install billing software.
  3. Profession: Are you an expert on the subject? You can't sell what you don't know. Your audience will more than likely have knowledge of the subject already and trying to deliver information on which you are not truly familiar could damage you credibility. 
The objectives of selecting a topic should meet at the intersection of the three Ps.
Visual: The number one thing you need to remember; you are part of the visual! Don't be a distraction from your own content. Dress appropriately.
  1. Don't start the presentation by apologizing to your audience. Don't apologize that the topic isn't sexy. Don't apologize that you're feeling a little under the weather. Don't apologize that they have to be there. Just don't apologize!
  2. Don't ask your audience if they can hear you. If they can't hear you, they will let you know.
  3. If you use PowerPoint, don't use fonts that are too small to be viewed by the whole audience and don't say things like, "I don't know if you guys in the back can see this . . .," 
  4. Don't constantly say, "I'll come back to that later. Make your point in the moment. Your audience won't remember the reference later and you'll lose the room.
  5. Don't promise to keep things short. This is impossible. You were give an allotted time to speak. Speak!
  6. Try to keep words like, "um" and "so" to a minimum or try not to say them at all. They create a distraction & eventually that's all your audience will hear.
Last, save some time for Q & A. Your audience will want to clarify information received. And there you have it; universal rules we can all use to give amazing presentations and get the next invite.

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