How well are you connecting with colleagues and patients? No matter what the answer, chances are, you could do better, according to Jack Cush, MD, director of Clinical Rheumatology for Baylor Scott & White Research Institute and professor of medicine and rheumatology at Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas.
How to Talk to Colleagues
With a career full of presentations and coming from a large family in which he honed his gift for gab, Dr. Cush has several rules he lives by when presenting information to colleagues.
“You need to be comfortable and conversational,” he says. “If you want to get them interested, be interesting. Because focusing only on the number of slides and figures you present won’t draw your audience in.”
In fact, Dr. Cush says “details are the enemy of good, when it comes to great presentations.”
Here are a few tips for crafting captivating presentations:
- Start and end with a story: Make sure the story is relevant to the overall mission of the lecture or topic you are discussing. Dr. Cush says, “If it’s the results of a study, try framing it as an analogy.”
- Keep it simple: “Your audience needs stories and teaching points, not slides crammed with information that is too much to take in,” he says. According to Dr. Cush, the best slide is an image; if you use numbers, don’t use more than three; and keep the language on your slides simple and memorable—like something you would read on a t-shirt.
- Get your audience talking: “Keep your audience engaged by asking [them] questions,” Dr. Cush says. “You can also share a practical application or a case [for them] to comment on.”
- Don’t be funny, unless you are funny: Too often, speakers open with a joke or try to be humorous, which is an art. Dr. Cush says, “If you don’t have that skill, try talking about a personal experience, like a challenging trip from the airport, to get [your audience] smiling.”
How to Talk to Patients
Some of the same approaches for communicating with colleagues also come in handy when speaking with patients. Example: Make sure to focus on the patient and what’s most important to them, not just what you think is important, advises Donald E. Thomas Jr., MD, FACP, FACR, RhMSUS, CCD, a rheumatologist with Arthritis and Pain Associates of PG County, Greenbelt, Md., and an associate professor of medicine at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md.