Managing Your Practice

Public speaking fundamentals. Presentation follow-up: What to do after the last slide is shown

One-on-one follow-up with program attendees in various ways can help to solidify your talk in their minds. You may also want to explore other means of disseminating your message.

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Paul Zwolak for OBG Management

This third article in a series on public speaking describes steps you can take immediately following the program to strengthen the impact of your diligent preparation (“Preparation: Tips that lead to a solid, engaging presentation.” OBG Manag. 2016;28[7]:31–36) and honed presentation (“The program: Key elements in capturing and holding audience attention.” OBG Manag. 2016;28[9]:46–50). Don’t overlook these details.

Find ways to stay in touch

You have concluded your talk. The audience response was enthusiastic and the brief Q&A session productive. But it is not over yet. Postpone putting away your computer and disconnecting the audiovisual equipment. Instead, mingle with the attendees—as you also did, we hope, before the program began. There is always more you can learn about your listeners. And, importantly, a few of them would undoubtedly like to ask you one-on-one about a case related to the topic you covered or about another problem in your area of expertise.

We suggest that, as part of your follow-up, you take the names of attendees you speak with. Make a note relevant to each one and plan to send a personal letter that perhaps includes an article you wrote or one published by a credible source. For example, if one of us (MK) gives a talk for a physician audience on a clinical topic, I will send the inquiring physician a note and an article on the topic, with the key sentences related to his or her question highlighted. A sticky note on the article’s front page directs the physician’s attention to the page containing the answer to his or her question (FIGURE). Using this simple technique can make you a value-added resource long after your presentation.

Figure Follow up with program attendees who made specific inquiries about your talk by sending personalized notes with helpful documents.

Alternatively, you could e-mail the article to a representative for the organization that you were speaking for. This makes you an asset to the representative, who will likely tell colleagues about your assistance, which could earn you a return speaking engagement.

Make sure, too, that you have an ample supply of business cards—the quickest and easiest way to give out your contact information.

You may also want to distribute a handout of your presentation. This could of course be a printout of your slide show presentation (assuming there are no copyright concerns). But we think it is better to distribute a single page with salient points you would like the audience to take away from your program. However you prepare your handout, be certain each page displays your name, address, phone numbers, and e-mail and website addresses.

Another suggestion: An unobtrusive way to obtain the names of those who attend your program is to collect their business cards in a container before the presentation and hold a drawing for a prize at the end of the program. We often give away a copy of one of our books, but any small gift would work.

Ask for feedback

If you are speaking on behalf of an organization or another sponsoring entity, it is helpful to ask the meeting planner what they thought of the program. Ask for constructive criticism and input on how you might improve the program. Also ask if you were able to get across your most important points.

Finally, send a note to the meeting planner or representative expressing your thanks for the invitation and offering to provide any additional information they might need or want.

Extend the reach of your message

If your talk would be appropriate for a broader audience, you could consider adapting it for publication. Be sure to understand the audience of the publication and review the selected journal’s guidance for authors.

If you do write an article, share it with your colleagues and perhaps your patients. You might also consider posting the article on your website. Yet another option would be to videotape your presentation, keeping it under 10 minutes, and upload it to the video-sharing website YouTube.

Bottom line. The payoff for your research and preparation need not end with the speaking engagement.

Share your thoughts! Send your Letter to the Editor to Please include your name and the city and state in which you practice.

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