Know it or Not: You are a Public Speaker

We’ve all felt it, the pounding heart, swirling stomach and trembling hands. For some of us, it takes a crowd of hundreds to bring on this reaction. For others, speaking at a team meeting will do it. I used to think that some people are born to be speakers. What I’ve discovered is that we all have it in us AND it takes practice.

The funny thing is that in our profession, we are speakers EVERY day. We may not choose to speak at seminars and conferences but we talk to our patients, don’t we? They are our audience.

When I attended the Buckley School of Public Speaking, my whole idea of public speaking changed.Here are a few tips I’d like to share that can help us all “speak” to our patients more comfortably and effectively.

#1 Use common language– I won’t tell you exactly how Mr. Buckley put it but basically, bring your vocabulary to the level of the audience. It’s natural for us to say “I noticed on the bitewings there is caries on the mesial of #2. It’s pretty deep, It needs a core buildup and porcelain crown.” Or “there is suppuration in the furcation area on #31 lingual”. Now this doesn’t mean any more to our patient that if we were speaking pig latin.

After we begin to bring patients into our world of dental speak, they may be able to translate. But for the most part, if we use dental terms to talk to them, it’s like being at a foreign film with no subtitles. You’d feel lost and you might get up and leave. Use common words and terms so patients can actively participate and so they don’t think we are trying to hide something. Instead say, “Mr. Jones, there’s pus between the roots of this last tooth on the lower right”. Now, that means something.

#2 Be Yourself– Everyone has a unique personality. That’s what makes us special and interesting. Use this to your advantage. I work with another hygienist and the words we use to explain things to patients are almost exactly the same. BUT, the way we use those words is very different. We talk to patients using our own personality. We don’t want to sound like we are reading from a script.

Scripts are great guidelines for what to say. And there are certain phrases that I NEVER leave out. I say it with my own little twist and so do you.

#3 Be Passionate– Get connected to what you are saying, heart and soul. A great speaker must have a deep conviction that their audience needs and wants to hear what they have to say.

You’ve read it before in past e-zines, you must completely believe in the treatment you recommend for your patients. If not, this comes across. Put your heart into it. “Mr. Jones, I know that this pus is dangerous to your health. You have a severe infection here and if it’s not treated, it could effect other teeth and other parts of your body.” I’ve even gone so far to say “You know, you can have this treated here in our office or somewhere else. My goal is for you to be healthy, no matter where you seek the care.”

When you step up to your audience, keep these things in mind. They’ll help you feel better and your patients will know it.

Stay Inspired,


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