The KevinMD toolkit: Speaking

Kevin Pho social media keynote physician speaker

Part of the KevinMD toolkit series.

A lot of people ask me, “What tools do you use for blogging, speaking, when you’re on the road, seeing patients etc. …” So I decided to start a series that describe what tools I use, and why.

First in this series are tools I use for my social media keynote presentations. My audiences can range from 50 to over a thousand.  They include a variety of stakeholders interested in the healthcare-social media intersection, including doctors, nurses, physician recruiters, the pharmaceutical industry, health marketers and public relations professionals.  I generally aim to give about 3 to 5 keynotes per year (which is the most my clinic and family will allow).

Many of the tools have come from trial and error, or from snafus that have occurred during a presentation.  When I gave my first social media talk back in 2009, a guide like this would have been tremendously helpful.  So to new and experienced speakers, I hope you find this useful, and please feel free to share your own tools in the comments.

I’ll continually update this list as my needs evolve.

Lenovo X220.  Despite having an iPad mini and an iPhone, I’ve always been a PC guy, and haven’t made the move to Macs yet.  Perhaps that will change with my next computer.  For now, the Lenovo is relatively light, powerful and has excellent battery life (>6 hrs).  I bought this before ultrabooks came out, so if I continue with the PC route, I’d probably get an ASUS Zenbook.  If I switched to a Mac, it would be a Macbook Air.

I insist on presenting from my own laptop, as I’ve seen other presenters have formatting issues with their slides, or have problems with audio and video when they use the conference-provided laptop. I know everything works the way it’s supposed to on my own computer.

PowerPoint.  I know, blasphemy.  My entire slide deck is on PowerPoint, and although Keynote and Prezi are undeniably slicker, I can’t bring myself to convert over yet.  Also, many of my slides are simply high resolution pictures with few words, or short videos, so no need yet to switch over to the more trendy slideware alternatives.  So PowerPoint it is for now.

Logitech Professional Presenter R800 with Green Laser Pointer. I’ve tried many pointers, and this is the one that feels most comfortable in my hand.  Also, it has a 100-ft wireless range.  Why is that important?  Some conferences require that you put your laptop at the back of the room with the audio/visual people.  One time I was speaking in a huge ballroom, and with my old pointer I missed advancing a few slides because I was just out of its wireless range.  Now with this one, I don’t have to worry about that.

Dropbox. I store my slides in 3 locations.  Local computer, USB thumb drive on a keychain, and Dropbox.  So in case my keys get stolen and my laptop explodes, my slides will remain in the cloud. You can’t be too careful.

Patriot Xporter XT Rage 32 GB USB 2.0 Flash. It’s fast and holds a whopping 32 gigs of data.  The USB connector also slides out, meaning there’s no detachable cover to lose.

iStock Photo and Shutterstock. Many of my slides comprise of visual metaphors composed of high resolution images.  I’m picky about visuals, so I want to best images available.  That means either taking your own pictures, or paying for stock photography.  I’ve also been experimenting with video slides as well.  Both of these sites have stock video footage to play with.

Full Video Converter Free. I sometimes play YouTube videos in my talks.  But never rely on a conference’s Internet connection, which can be spotty.  Download them straight to your computer with a variety of YouTube capture programs (like the Ultimate YouTube Downloader for Chrome, or StreamTransport if you want to download videos from non-YouTube sites) This free video converter program converts the video file (.flv) into an editable file for Windows (.wmv) or Mac (Quicktime).

Screenpresso. Occasionally, you want to use an annotated screenshot in a slide.  This tool takes screenshots and has a variety of ways to mark them up, including text, a variety of shapes, blurring, and highlighting.

PhotoFiltre. Sometimes, you don’t need the power of Photoshop.  This small program handles all my image needs: cropping, color changes, and gradients.

Screencast-O-Matic. To ensure my talk is the right length, I record my presentations with this handy screencast tool.  I also like to keep a copy so I can refer back to specific phrases, timing or word patterns that I used.

MOO.  The best business cards, bar none.  Thick stock, great layouts, or create your own visually striking, dual-sided design.  Perfect to hand out when you network at conferences.

TED. I watch several TED talks a week, mostly on the iPad app.  They are always poignant and inspiring, and I learn something new from each one of them.  From a technique standpoint,  everyone can learn from the variety of TED speaking styles as well as the visuals the speakers use.

The Naked Presenter: Delivering Powerful Presentations With or Without Slides (Voices That Matter). I’m a big fan of Garr Reynolds of Presentation Zen fame, and model my talks after this style.  This is the first book I read on the art of presenting, and its message has stuck with me since.  If you follow Garr’s advice in this book, your presentations will exponentially improve.

Presentation Zen Design: Simple Design Principles and Techniques to Enhance Your Presentations. Another favorite by Garr Reynolds.  Slide design is critically important to support your message, and can set your talk apart from most others at a typical medical conference.  Following the tips in this book will make your visuals look professionally prepared.

Confessions of a Public Speaker.  Scott Berkun’s short book is a great read in the days leading up to major keynotes.  No matter how bad things may seem at the moment, it’s nothing compared to what Scott has seen and been through.

The Amazon links are affiliate links.

Kevin Pho is co-author of Establishing, Managing, and Protecting Your Online Reputation: A Social Media Guide for Physicians and Medical Practices. He is founder and editor of, also on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

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