CV prep

  • September 1, 2022
  • Marcia Travelstead

Table of Contents

By seeking public speaking opportunities, physicians can become well-known experts and share their messages.


Otolaryngologist Shawn C. Jones, M.D., is an author, consultant and speaker on the topic of physician burnout. He first stepped into public speaking as a physician because he was passionate about bringing awareness to the damage caused by secondhand smoke.


What do you like about being a public speaker?

I think all physicians have an educator within us. That’s what we do primarily in the office. We’re educating our patients about the disease process and things they can do in their lives to improve their health. I like being able to take that message I’m passionate about and share it in a way that’s meaningful to others. I’d say the educational part of sharing the message is the biggest thing.

Was there anything that surprised you about being a public speaker?

I think it surprised me a little bit that a passion for a topic and the willingness to invest yourself to essentially become somewhat of an expert in it can set you up to be the person that people go to in certain situations. It isn’t something that happens in most instances by accident. It’s the result of concerted effort and drive, motivation and hard work. The good news is, if you have something that you’re interested in and passionate about, with some hard work and dedication, you can set yourself up to be an expert and accomplish what you want to. I would not want to spend the time and effort doing this with
respect to something I really wasn’t passionate about.

What advice do you have for physicians who want to become public speakers?

The most important thing is to recognize that when you start out on this path, you really have to do your homework and make sure you know your topic very well, and that you’re honest if you are asked a question and you don’t know the answer. There’s no harm in saying, “I haven’t thought about that” or “That’s not come up before, I’ll look into that.”
I would avail myself to all of the information that’s out there and available on the mechanics of public speaking and what makes a good speech. In the end, if you want to educate people on what you’re passionate about, it’s going to be a lot more effective if it’s an interesting and entertaining presentation and really grabs their attention.

How can a physician get started? 

Do some serious introspective work about what you have an interest in and what you would like to be known for. In your wildest dreams, if you found yourself as a highly sought after public speaker, you’d want to make sure you really had a keen interest in your topics. What do people need to hear, what do they want to hear, and how are you uniquely qualified to deliver that message? 

Once you find out what thing(s) you’re interested in talking about, read everything you can and talk with everyone in that field and hone that perspective. I still do my best to read every book I can find on physician burnout and listen to other talks and opinions on it. 

How would a physician public speaker market themselves? 

First, you need to have a presence online, such as a speaker’s website with testimonials, perhaps a video that shows you speaking so that people know what they’re getting if they decide to have you speak. You need to be on social media and have consistent messages. Also, you may want to have two sites, a page for your personal use and one for professional. You don’t want people who are interested in your public speaking to have to go through your family photos. It’s about being professional online. 

Anything else to add? 

For me, it’s more about the message than me speaking. In the end, I’m more interested in addressing physician burnout, making a difference in the world, than I am about Shawn c. Jones, m.d., being a highly sought-after public speaker. A good message is important and rings true to people and has a positive effect. 

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