Offering educational seminars to attract new patients

Offering educational seminars to attract new patients

If growing your practice is a priority, consider offering seminars as one component of a comprehensive marketing plan. It’s not as challenging as you might think to attract a small (or even a large) crowd of potential new patients who are hungry for information. Here are some ideas to help make your seminar efforts successful.

First, be clear about the types of patients you’d like to draw into your practice. If you give a talk on anorexia, for example, expect to see more people who suffer from the disease trickling into your office. These individuals can be time consuming, so a seminar on this topic will “pay off” only if you’re passionate about helping anorexic patients. Make sure your topic is both of interest to the public, and that it will positively impact your business.

Next, determine whether you want to offer seminars on your own, or where groups already gather. There are pros and cons to both, so let’s look at them one at a time.

When you organize your own seminars, the upside is that you have control over the time, location, and who is invited or encouraged to attend. The downside is that the details are all up to you. Depending on the expected size of your audience, you may need to rent a meeting room, or your office waiting room might be adequate. Plan to spend money on promotion such as advertising or a mailing to a targeted list. Refreshments are generally served at a public seminar, so think ahead about how to handle that. You’ll also need a laptop, projector, and screen if you’ll be doing a PowerPoint or showing video as part of your presentation.

If you opt to speak where your audience is “ready made” (for example, the local Rotary Club, women’s group, or Chamber luncheon) you will be restricted to their schedule. You’ll also be presenting to a diverse audience which, if your topic is broad enough (Prevention of Heart Disease, for example), may be just fine. The advantage of going on the local speaking circuit is that the planning and logistics are largely taken care of for you. Create a simple brochure to get the word out about your availability. This document should include your topics, credentials, contact information, and photo. (Google “speaker one sheet” and you’ll find many examples.)

Whether you speak on your own or to assembled groups, here are a few points to keep in mind:

  • Focus the talk on what is of interest to attendees. Ask a few friends who are not in the medical field what they would most like to know about (cosmetic procedures? stress relievers?) before preparing your talk. Keep your presentation relatively non-technical and avoid using acronyms or medical jargon.
  • Don’t make your audience dizzy with too many slides. Aim for about one slide per minute, and don’t put too much text on any one slide. When in doubt, break long bulleted lists into two slides for easy reading from the back of the room.
  • Leave plenty of time for Q&A. If your presentation is slated for one hour, plan on talking for no more than 35 minutes. You may be surprised by how many interesting questions people have following your talk.
  • Each attendee should leave with a brochure, article, or some other type of educational piece that supports your presentation. A handout of your slides might be sufficient, depending on the topic and how you organize your talk. Be sure your contact information is on whatever you hand out.
  • Ask participants to complete a short evaluation form. Include a question about how they heard about your seminar. This will help with future planning.
  • If it seems appropriate, have a staff member at the presentation with an appointment book ready to schedule new patients.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Café Quill for more invaluable advice including tips on how to avoid burnout in medicine.