Oral presentation skills for dental assistants

With proper preparation, assistants can be effective public speakers.

Effective speaking and good oral communication skills are very important for all health-care professionals. The ability to communicate effectively will enhance both personal and professional development. As dental assistants, part of our role is communicating with patients and colleagues, while providing oral health education to the public. We may also be involved in activities through local organizations, and may participate in the American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA) on the national, state, or local levels. As such, we should be prepared to provide appropriate oral presentations to either small or large groups.

Public speaking is rated as a high stressor for most people, especially if someone has never presented before. Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking and is very common. However, with appropriate preparation and practice, even the most inexperienced person can succeed delivering a public address.

There are multiple basic strategies you can use to learn the art of skillfully expressing yourself as a professional. Some helpful strategies include but are not limited to admitting your nervousness, confirming to yourself that you have something important to share, organizing your thoughts, acting confident, and speaking loudly and clearly.

When planning for a presentation, it is critical to prepared. It will be most helpful to know your audience. By understanding the nature of the group, you will be able to develop a presentation that should be of interest to the group. You can begin to develop your presentation by choosing a topic and appropriately limiting its scope.

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A title should be developed to introduce the content of the presentation. The objective of the presentation should be identified so that the content of the speech may be directed at informing, convincing, initiating action, or some other objective. It is important to gather facts through referenced and reliable resources. As content information is obtained, it must be organized in a logical sequence to facilitate the flow of the speech, and so the audience may follow the progression of thought. It is often helpful to begin by making an attention-getting statement, posing a question, or sharing a scenario or short story.

It may also be helpful to visit the location where the talk will be delivered to become comfortable with the surroundings. An assessment of the facility should be made to determine the need for any audiovisual aids. You should practice the speech multiple times so that you may hear your voice, become familiar with the content and sequence of thoughts, and familiarize yourself with the presentation.

Once the appropriate preparations have been made, it is time to deliver the presentation. It is helpful to use natural dialogue and gestures. Although you’re making a formal presentation, reading each word as written and using cumbersome terms may detract from your message. Come directly to the point. Your audience will lose interest quickly and may even become impatient if information is too vague or if too much unimportant information is presented prior to addressing the main issue. It is critical to speak clearly and distinctly, use eye contact, scan the room, and speak loudly so that you may be easily heard.

By employing some basic skills to develop an oral report and prepare appropriately for the presentation, you may reduce anxiety while enhancing your ability to share information. With experience and practice, dental assistants may become skilled and confident as public speakers, whether for personal or professional purposes.

Busa, Maria Grazia; Language Value, December 2010, Volume 2, Number 1, pg 51-67, 2010
Olrech, Nancy; Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins; Student Success for Health Professionals, Chapter 5, pgs 127-159, 2008
Peoples, Deborah Carter; Guidelines for Oral presentations, Ohio Wesleyan University Libraries, November 15, 2001

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