How Every Medical Woman Can Shine at a Conference (Part 1 of 3) – Preparation


Women can feel like they are losing out at medical and leadership conferences, many of which are still dominated by men.

Have you ever left a conference with a sense that you could have got more out of it?
– “I could’ve asked that question…”
– “I could’ve met more people during breaks…”
– “I could’ve approached that speaker…”


The barriers to stepping up and speaking out amongst women attending professional events are multifactorial. The good news is that you really can be in control of what you get out of any conference.

By observing how successful women train their “stepping-up” and “speaking-out” muscles, it was possible to document specific strategies that will enable you to increase own visibility and to get your voice heard at conferences.

In the first part of this article, you will learn how to prepare for the conference, even if you are not a speaker.

1) Personal Agenda

  •   Study conference agenda in advance and set specific learning, research and networking objectives.
  •   Your attendance at professional events should be purposeful. Write down 3-5 desired outcomes of conference attendance and review these regularly during the event.
  •   Always look over the conference programme in advance to make sure you identify “Must-attend” talks and workshops, as well as people you want to make sure that you meet up with.
  •   If there is a fellow conference attendee that you would like to meet during the event, e-mail (or send a message via Linkedin) them in advance, introduce yourself, and arrange to meet for coffee.

2) Mindset

  • Aspire for excellence instead of perfection.
  • Believe that your insights and information will contribute to attendees’ growth.
  • Use motivational affirmations (e.g. “I am stronger than this challenge, and this challenge is making me even stronger”).

3) Social Media

  • Engage with conference organisers and delegates via a conference Twitter hashtag.
  • Research speakers’ professional background, career path and interests (Google or Linkedin).

4) Personal Brand

  • Update your Linkedin and Twitter profiles (people will be looking you up).
  • People make inferences about you by what you post on social media – what image do you want to be projecting?
  • Dress for success: wear something that makes you feel empowered (e.g. heels).
  • Even doctors need to use business cards. You should take good quality cards with you to any event, meeting or conference. Don’t be the one apologising “Oh, sorry, I don’t have one” while exchanging contact information by writing on cocktail napkins. Stand out from the crowd! You can order cheap but good quality cards from Vistaprint.
  • As a minimum, your business card should include your name, email address and social media handles.

5) Planning content and delivery of your talk

  • Aim to tell a story and bring in a spark every 7 minutes to keep your audience’s attention.
  • Build in a STAR moment (something to always remember), for example a memorable interaction, a thought-provoking image or a challenging statement.
  •  5 lines per slide, 5 words per line, 1 slide per minute.
  •  Video-record your practice to look for mannerisms.
  •  Use a combination of visual, auditory and kinaesthetic supporting materials.
  •  Don’t present anything you don’t believe in.
  •  Your presentation is a gift to your audience (decide how you want them to feel at the end of your talk, e.g. inspired, informed, entertained).
  •  When planning your talk, picture your audience:

a) Who are they?

b) Why are they in the room for your presentation?

c) Where are they at the start of your presentation and where should they be (or how should they feel) by the time you leave the stage?

d) Write down in one sentence describing a specific change you would like to help your audience achieve (eg. “I want them to realise/learn …, so that …”).



In the second part, you will discover tips for presenting from stage and interacting from the audience.

In the third part, you will learn great ways to shine during conference networking, as well as what you should do after the event.

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