Wednesday, 17 June 2009

On Tenterhooks

I'm sitting at home waiting for it to be a reasonable time for me to set out to go to a medical educational establishment in London. It's not the first time that I have been there so I know how to find it, and the presentation that I am to give (three times) is one that I am very familiar with having delivered it a number of times over the last eight months. But familiarity with my subject does not stop me from being very nervous.

I have been booked to give these presentations since my first foray into talking to doctors about the benefits of patients having access to their medical records. It is not yet a year since a chance conversation with my GP led to him asking if I would be willing to talk about my experience with being able to access my medical records online, something that was pioneered by the GP practice that I am with. I described my feelings about that first experience here and here. Since then I have given several more presentations on the subject, and I even feature as a voice over on an online demonstration of what I, as a patient, can see on my medical records and the benefits that can accrue from this.

For those readers who may not have read all my previous posts, I should say at this point that giving presentations at large international conferences was something that I did regularly when I was working. And the delegates at those conferences could be pretty difficult to deal with as it was possible that I was saying things that went totally against their beliefs in the subject areas that I dealt with. But familiarity with my subjects and confidence in my analysis meant that I could deal with hostile questioning without hesitation. However, the severe depression that I suffered from, and which caused me to have to take early retirement on medical grounds, has left me with a complete lack of confidence in myself and I was very nervous about speaking in public again even though my GP reassured me that the audience of doctors would be kind to me.

On the first occasion that I gave the presentation everything that could go wrong, did. It was planned that I would do the presentation using the live system to show how easy it was to use. Unfortunately, between setting everything up for the demonstration and actually having to stand up in front of the audience of doctors, the server at my GP's surgery went down, so no live records, and it became necessary for me to make the presentation using screen shots of the system which I had only seen once and the order of which I was not altogether certain.

Since then I have developed a PowerPoint presentation that allows me to give the presentation tailored to the audience and time available to me. There are nice transitions between the slides, and some nice refinements that have been built in as a result of the sort of questions that the presentation generally elicits. I am familiar with the order of the slides, I know what I have to say about each of them, and I have a slide at the end which sums up the benefits to the patient that such access allows. I know from experience that doctors are a nice audience to make a presentation to and they are especially appreciative of the opportunity to hear the patient's view on the subject.

Yet, I still have butterflies the size of pterodactyls blundering their way about my stomach and an attack of the shakes that would make a withdrawing alcoholic look steady as a rock.


Alison said...

I hope it went okay for you x

Louise Mills said...

cool blog.