This post is part brag, part teach, part challenge.
Last summer I did a webinar about patient engagement (here’s the replay) for Phreesia, a company that makes an iPad-like tablet that integrates a lot of steps to get you (the patient) into the provider’s computer system. Afterward, they said they “monitor the attention level of the attendees (it’s a GoToWebinar feature) … and it was the highest I’ve ever seen it.”
Really? GoToWebinar feature? Yep, the system keeps track of how long attendees stay, whether they ask questions, and even whether they listen but stop watching by switching to another window while listening to the audio.
Sooo, I guess that means a lot of people kept watching and listening for the whole hour. Good! Because if they don’t pay attention they haven’t learned anything and the whole thing has been a waste.
My friend Ted Eytan MD starts some talks by saying “It’s okay if you guys do email while I talk, because it’s my job to be more interesting than your email.”
Can you take that on as a personal responsibility?
Takeaways for patient speakers
To be effective as patient voices we need to be heard; to get them to listen, we have to be interesting.
Are you more interesting than their email? You get no points for saying “Well they SHOULD listen!” any more than a bad school teacher gets points for that.
- Know what’s on their minds. In that post I described the “home run call” approach taught to me by Kent Bottles MD at the start of my speaking career.
- Never, ever commit “death by bullet-points” or “death by PowerPoint.” If you don’t know what those are, google them. In short, your job is to hold their attention from moment to moment to moment to moment until you’re done, so:
- Never, ever put up a slide with a lot of text and read it to them for five minutes. I will personally come strangle you if you do this, or at least take away your slide clicker. (In the first 15 seconds your audience reads the whole thing, and for the rest of the time you’re telling them something they’ve already heard!)
- If a slide needs a lot of text, reveal the items one at a time. Learn to use the animation features of PowerPoint (or whatever you use) to “build” the content. Most speakers don’t know how to do this!
- The same applies to graphical content. Instead of putting up a finished picture and then pointing out the pieces (like a boring school teacher), put up the first part, get them oriented, then add pieces. Again, to do this, learn to use your software.
- Two helper-tips:
- For an example of all this, see the first ten slides from my talk two years ago at the Blue Button Developer Conference. See how even simple text slides have more impact on you when you first see the first part then get the rest added.
- This Slideshare presentation has some ways to break up your content. But look: they still don’t talk about builds!! Arg.
- Your thoughts must have an interesting progression, not just a logical one. You are responsible for your transitions from one subject to another. Find a way at the end of each topic to raise a question, or something like “Now, sometimes people will hear this and say ‘But what about X?'”
- The best thing you can do is raise a legitimate question in the audience’s mind (really raise the question, not shove it down their throat) and then answer it. If they agree the question is interesting, and you answer it, they think you’re smart and they tell their friends. :)
- Sometimes you just have to switch, with no segue; when that happens, be clear about it so the audience doesn’t get mini-whiplash: “The next thing I’d like to talk about is…” and/or a clearly formatted transition slide.
Academy cadets, if you want help with any of this, ask. I learned it all from various mentors over the years.