One thing I really enjoy doing as part of my career is speaking. There’s something exciting about getting to the place in your career where you’re an expert and you get the opportunity to share your hard-earned knowledge with others. Not to mention, speaking at conferences adds some variety to the usual day-to-day of your clinical life. So, how do you get started with speaking gigs?
The first (and most difficult!) step of the process is to actually become, well, an expert! But, you may not need to do as much work to accomplish this as you think. If you want to speak on clinical topics, you will need to become somewhat seasoned in the clinical setting with several years of practice experience under your belt. During this time, decide what you’re most interested in and begin to hone your knowledge and gain experience on this topic. Most speakers speak on a small subset of clinical topics rather than a wide variety. For example, I really enjoy speaking about pharmacology as it links my undergraduate education in biology and chemistry with my nurse practitioner know-how. I also speak on professional development topics based on my experiences with MidlevelU’s programs. Use your initial time in practice to decide where your specific interests lie.
Focus and Develop Your Knowledge Base
As I mentioned, most ‘experts’ focus on a specific clinical area. Nurse practitioners have a wide clinical focus in their education (ex. ‘family’ or ‘adult’), so this doesn’t need to be a specialty where you have an actual degree (ex. orthopedics). Rather, select a patient population or specific diagnoses you like to make/manage. Keep up with the latest in evidence based practice related to this area. Attend conferences on the topic. Ultimately, you’re looking to make yourself an expert in this area.
Create a Presence
Establishing yourself as an expert usually involves creating some sort of a visible presence in the field. This might mean publishing research or it could mean creating your own website and writing articles on the issue. Whatever method you choose, create something tangible that shows to the world the knowledge and commitment you have to your specific practice area. For example, you might self-publish a book or clinical guide, author guest articles for a website, or create a clinical social media channel. Not only does this give organizations that need speakers insight into your level of expertise, it also means they just may find you on their own and reach out when an opportunity arises.
Seek Out Speaking Opportunities
There are a number of ways to speak in the medical profession. These include:
- Courses at universities
- News segments
- Professional conferences
- Pharmaceutical presentations
- NP organization meetings
- Online presentations
- …and more!
Create a list of organizations and publications that relate to your area of expertise. Reach out to let these organizations know you are interested in speaking and/or creating content for them. Including a list of topics you’re best positioned to speak on can be helpful. Consider aligning yourself with other, better-known experts in your field, for example doing a co-presentation, to help gain visibility. Some conferences, particularly those for professional organizations, allow submission of presentations for consideration. Apply for these opportunities. Finally, reach out to a speakers bureau. These organizations help book experts for conferences and other professional events.
Improve Your Skills
Request feedback after each opportunity that comes your way so you’re constantly improving your speaking presence. Record your presentations and re-watch them, critiquing yourself so you can improve. The key to speaking success is to practice, practice, practice!
Get Bigger and Better Gigs
As you grow your speaking resume, leverage your experience to command higher speaking fees and to present to larger audiences. Reach back out to events and organizations that may have rejected your proposal to speak at first, letting them know about your professional growth. Don’t neglect the content creation piece of your endeavor. As you continue to grow content offerings, research and other professional pursuits related to your area of expertise, the opportunities available to you continue to grow as well.
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