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Public Speaking: An often over-looked skill for diabetes educators

May 26, 2015

I am nearing completion of the doctoral program and have begun preparing for the final dissemination of my project. The anticipation has been nerve-wrecking, and I had a dream where everything that could go wrong went wrong. The problem? Presenting to a group of other healthcare professionals. 

I do well when talking to a group of patients and feel at ease and confident...however, when I have to speak to a group of my peers, I start to fall apart. I prepare well for the presentations, and I am confident in the content I present, but I always get nervous. I experience anxiety and palpitations, and I tend to talk too fast. My daughter had an interesting take on the issue. She said that with patients, I am the expert and they don’t challenge the content I present. With peers, I am expected to be professionally challenged because that is how the profession grows.

I am amazed to see speakers who are so eloquent. I used to wonder if speaking to a group of individuals was a gift people are born with or if it is a skill which can be learned. I think it is a little bit of both. In the last three years, I have learned some speaking skills. In class, we had to critique each other’s presentations to learn some of the things we could improve upon. My dilemma is that I am not looking forward to speaking in front of large groups of individuals, yet there is an expectation that I will be doing such presentations in the future.

Public speaking is a necessary skill for diabetes educators, and it's not an easy one. We are expected to talk to a wide range of audiences with very different experiences and expertise. But how do you overcome the fear of speaking and become an eloquent presenter?

How do you deal with "stage fright?" Can you share any tips for presenting to large groups of individuals and different audiences? Please share!

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