I am interested in an education career after graduating from Farmingdale State College with a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene. I was always interested in continuing education seminars and loved to talk to speakers after the session. I admire people who help us dental professionals to be motivated and educated as well as to help us grow professionally. My question is: What are the qualities to be great speaker in that field? What would you recommend to concentrate on?
There are many speaking courses you can take to help refine your presentation organization and speaking skills. Nothing is better than practice. It is an old organization but Toastmasters International is a great place to get public speaking training and practice. I would also develop an area of expertise, ie, what do you want to speak about, what can you speak about with authority, and in what areas are you a subject matter expert?
I think a good speaker is passionate about the subject matter, spends time to develop visually pleasing presentations that are not too wordy, and brings in a lot of personal experiences. I think it’s a good rule of thumb to give some type of activity or audience participation every 15 minutes rather than just lecturing during a presentation. I would recommend concentrating on the topics you know the most about and that excite you. In the beginning I think it is a good idea to practice your presentations out loud so that you aren’t giving it for the first time in front of a crowd. It will also build your confidence if you are new.
First, I recommend that speakers present on topics they are knowledgeable and passionate about. The topics should be timely and interesting to the audience. For example, my passion is my direct access practice and the many patients I have served in long-term care facilities over the past 32 years. Other dental hygienists are interested in learning if this is a good option for them, how to start a practice, or how to care for special patients in these settings.
Second, develop your speaking skills. Look for opportunities where you can speak up and share with small groups. This may be at a local dental hygiene meeting. For example, my local DH component features occasional “Professional Exchange” meetings where members share about a new product they are using, a practice dilemma they are facing at work, or anything else on their mind about dental hygiene. This encourages everyone to speak up in a safe environment with dental hygienists you know and trust. We often find that we would like to learn more about a given topic and ask the hygienist or someone else to make a longer presentation at another meeting. This opportunity builds confidence in speaking. For a more formal option, join a Toastmasters’ group.
Third, DH associations often feature lunch ‘n learns at their conferences. If you have a special skill or experience, offer to do a lunch ‘n learn presentation. Perhaps you volunteer or practice at a community clinic locally or overseas?
Fourth, consider teaching at a local dental assisting, dental hygiene program or dental school. Start by applying for a clinical teaching assignment, or volunteer to be an assistant teacher and see if this leads to something more. Just months after my graduation I began teaching in a community college dental assisting program, then a dental hygiene program and eventually as an affiliate instructor at the dental school.
Fifth, consider working with a corporation, learning about new products, presenting in dental office settings, and working at dental/dental hygiene conventions all give you new opportunities to learn and be known to others.
Sixth, learn to develop and present programs using technology such as power point. I have a talented mentor to help me with this.
Seventh, be an active member and volunteer in professional associations. It is amazing how membership and involvement lead me to the most exciting professional life of giving and learning.
All of these suggestions and many more will help you build your knowledge base, confidence and skills.
I wish you the very best, and be the very best in whatever you choose!
As a continuing education provider for over 40 years, I can honestly say that nothing is more exciting and rewarding than speaking to an audience of enthusiastic dental hygienists! After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania (then called School of Oral Hygiene), I was selected, along with two other graduates, to participate in a 6-month long program in periodontal therapy at the University of Pennsylvania dental school. The program was run by periodontists. We were the first to be instructed in more advanced instrumentation skills such as root planing and administration of local anesthesia. In addition, we were taught how to take intraoral photographs, perform gingivoplasties, and temporary wire ligation. We partook in a pilot study to determine whether or not our skills in, “root planing” were equivalent with those of the periodontists. Lo and behold they were! At any rate, this experience profoundly impacted my expertise and I wanted to share my knowledge with other graduates of dental hygiene programs (at that time I was on the faculty of the University of Vermont dental hygiene program). I developed a course in instrument sharpening, advanced instrument selection, and current concepts of periodontal therapy. I photographed my own patients and developed treatment plans to share with audiences. Along with the dean of the dental school and the two other graduates of the periodontal therapy program, a 3-day course developed at Penn, with two days of didactic and workshops and the final day working with patients in the dental clinic to apply the newly found skills. Very comprehensive and the course lasted, with a waiting list, for over 20 years. From there, once “my name” was out there, I traveled extensively presenting courses in current periodontal therapy. That is how it all started. Concurrently, I continued working in our general dental practice (with my husband, also a Penn dental school grad), to maintain clinical skills and a sense of what it is to be, “in the trenches”. Over the years, (and I still practice one day a week albeit waited until vaccinations because of my level of maturity to put myself back in the office), I have maintained a love of reading as much evidenced-based information as possible. My most recent webinar was at the University of Pennsylvania in September, one of the first symposiums in dental hygiene, with speakers from all over presenting information of their varied specialties.
There is a considerable amount of disappointing continuing education available. I have attention national conventions over the years and presented at many. While some of the speakers are stellar, I have walked away from many programs where I felt the speakers had not done their homework. Providing CE requires an inordinate amount of time and effort. I felt as if I had studied the literature to the point that I could answer questions in an erudite and professional manner. Or, at least know where to find the answers. Being a clinician and lecturer made me one of the audience. I was sure to tell the audience that I was primarily a clinician. I was one of them. My demeanor was always meant to make the audience feel I was totally approachable.
Start by writing articles. Get your name out there. Then submit courses to local and then national meetings. Join the AADH. I just resigned from their CE chair although Is till belong to this amazing organization (along with the ADHA and our state component). Best of luck to you. Feel free to contact me at [email protected].
Develop a passion about a topic area, research it in detail and develop a program to share with others. Julia needs to know that a genuine desire to share information with others is far better than trying to lecture to a group. I learned as much from my “students” as I am certain that they learned from me. This makes teaching fun.