Presentation Slides: Do Speakers Need Them?

PB from Seattle writes:

“I’ve recently heard that the “best” speakers don’t need slides… what do you think?”


Dear PB,

I’ve reached out to PowerPoint and presentation design expert and author of Formulate a Winning Presentation, Margy Schaller of Laser Pointer Presentations, to answer this for us.

Margy writes: 

For many years, slides were text heavy teleprompters for speakers that became mind-numbing for the audience.

In today’s world, the answer is not so clear cut. If the purpose of the speech is to share your personal experience in an inspirational way (ie ,the keynote speaker at a graduation ceremony), then slides can often be a distraction.

However, if the purpose of the presentation is to teach your audience something about a topic, then good slides are a necessity. Recent studies have shown that people learn and, more importantly, RETAIN information up to 80% better with visuals. In order to achieve this, slides must follow the Assertion-Evidence model. No longer do we put a header with a list of bullets or paragraphs of information. The Assertion is a short headline in a complete sentence. The Evidence is a visual.

For example, instead of:

Importance of Good Customer Service

  • Keeps current customers happy
  • Generates positive reviews
  • Grows future business

The Assertion-Evidence model would be:
A picture of a happy customer at the type of business we were talking about with bolded text over top saying, “Good customer service contributes to the success of our business”.

If you have questions for Margy or if you’re feeling that your slides may be looking old and worn, I encourage you to reach out to Margy to learn how you can breathe new life into your PowerPoint presentation! (


Want a Better PowerPoint Presentation?

Visit to learn more.




Performance Anxiety: Tips for Stage Fright

CP from Nebraska writes:

“I’ve participated with Toastmasters, and that has helped my stage fright. But when I get in front of a large dental audience, I have a hard time keeping my concentration. Do you have any tips to combat stage fright?”


Dear CP,

I’ve asked presentations skills/content development expert and author of Just Because You’re an Expert, Doesn’t Make You Interesting, Dr. Paul Homoly, CSP of Homoly Communications to share his thoughts on this subject:

Paul writes: The #1 question up-and-coming speakers ask me is, “How can I get more comfortable in front of audiences?” This 5 minute video will give you the “secret” to offering the best version of yourself without the burdens of anxiety and self-consciousness..


Interested in developing your ability to say what’s important in compelling ways that listeners remember, are influenced by, and take action on? 

Consider attending Dr. Homoly’s “Just Because You’re an Expert… Doesn’t Make You Interesting” workshop in Scottsdale, Nov 14-15, 2017.

Visit to learn more.

Top 25 Women in Dentistry, 2017

Earlier this week, Dental Products Report unveiled its honorees for the 2017 Top 25 Women in Dentistry.   Thank you, colleagues and clients, for generously nominating me for this prestigious honor.  It is my pleasure to work with you and my greatest joy lies in celebrating your many successes as you grow your speaking and consulting businesses.


Top 25 Women in Dentistry, 2017, Vanessa Emerson

Want to Speak and Consult in Dentistry?

Would you like more from your dental career?  Do you anticipate that your knowledge, skills and experience, if shared, could help other dental professionals and teams reach their goals?   Have you ever wondered if you have what it takes to be a speaker or consultant in dentistry?

With time and experience in the practice, many dental professionals feel they have something to offer and would like to “give back” to dentistry while expanding their careers as business and thoughts leaders.   If you’ve found yourself wondering, “Could I do that?”, read on for pointers on launching your professional speaking and/or consulting business in dentistry.

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Send Speaker Packet… If It Wasn’t Requested?

DE  from North Carolina asks:

Should I send my speaker marketing packet to meeting planners, even if it wasn’t requested?


Dear DE,

There are multiple scenarios in which it would be appropriate to share your speaker packet for marketing purposes.  Following are the most effective methods:

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When Speaker Needs to Cancel Speaking Engagement

Just Ask V - Vanessa Emerson blog
ER from California asks:

I recently spoke for a large national meeting.  By the end of my Friday afternoon session, my throat was feeling a bit dry and hoarse.  I was scheduled to speak the following morning.  However, when I awoke on Saturday I had NO voice… not even a squeak!   I tried everything I could think of:  I steamed my face, drank tea, water, used throat lozenges and nothing worked.  I immediately located the event planners to check in with them.  They realized that I would not be able to present, but had no idea how to resolve this.  We searched the course catalog for other speakers who might be able to speak on this topic but came up with no other options.  Together we opted to cancel the class.  I felt horrible, and still do….  What advice would you give to the speaker and the meeting planner in this situation?


Dear ER,

Thank you for sharing your personal experience through this question.  This is a topic that we all – speakers and event planners alike – would be well advised to think through before it happens.  I’ve reached out to industry experts to ask for their opinions and experiences for creating a best case scenario in situations such as these:

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Cold Calling Meeting Planners

Just Ask V - Vanessa Emerson blog
PE of Connecticut asks:

I tried to contact a state dental association Executive Director today to learn more about opportunities to speak for their meetings.   She was out and they gave me her voice mail.   What do you recommend dental speakers do in this situation? Would you leave a voice mail and then follow up with an email, or just send an email?  What is the most effective protocol?


Dear PE,

Great question!   This reminds me of Jane Atkinson’s “Call-Send-Call” method for contacting meeting planners.  When contacting an organization to learn if your programs may be a good fit, phone is still usually the best method for making the initial contact.  

With this approach, identify your prospect, CALL them to ask about their event and when they are hiring, and establish their interest in your topic(s).   SEND your materials at an agreed upon time (during their planning stages). Then CALL to follow up at the time the planner indicated would be appropriate.

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Accessibility of Contact Information on a Dental Speaker Website

Just Ask V - Vanessa Emerson blog

PA from New York writes:

Which is the better option for my website?  A ‘Contact Us’ form or including contact info (email and phone) on the site.  Do I need to worry about spam?


Dear PA,

The answer to this question is not one-size-fits-all.  The purpose of your site as a dental speaker and/or consultant is to attract meeting planners and potential consulting clients, engage them and encourage them to reach out to you. We need to make it easy for them to contact you.

BOTTOMLINE:  I suggest including:

  • Contact info (email/phone) at the top or bottom of each screen
  • A  ‘Contact Us’ menu option on each screen
  • A contact form AND phone/email info on your Contact Us webpage.

It’s important to note that many people are averse to the contact forms and will “move on” rather than fill out the form.  To confirm my suspicions, I recently organized an impromptu survey through Facebook, to which 20 of our speaking/consulting colleagues responded.  Overwhelmingly, respondents stated they prefer to see the phone number and email address over a contact form.  Many respondents utilize BOTH on their sites.

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What is the Trade-off Between ‘Exposure’ and ‘Compensation’?

Just Ask V - Vanessa Emerson blog

ST from NY writes:

I’ve been asked to speak for a group that does not pay the speaker an honorarium. They suggest that speaking at their event provides exposure. What is the trade-off between exposure and compensation? Is there a bottom line that I should not dip below?

Dear ST,

There are times when it may makes sense to speak for a reduced fee or no fee. It depends upon the opportunity and the possibilities for spinning off additional business from the “exposure”. I would hold up the opportunity against your business plan and goals to determine if there is a good likelihood that it can help bring you additional speaking opportunities, consulting clients or help you sell product. Being seen by attendees as an expert in your topic area could be leveraged into new business. One way to leverage this “exposure” is to harvest email addresses from attendees so you are able to immediately market to them.* Read More

Securing Sponsorship

securing sponsorshipsHonorariums continue to grow, while dental meeting budgets seem to increase at a slower rate!

Many speakers enjoy relationships with companies who sponsor subject specific presentations. More speakers are reaching out to corporate sponsors to help them bridge the gap between the meeting’s budget and their honorarium. (In this model, the sponsor pays the speaker directly.) Most experienced meeting planners can provide you with a list of the areas in which they are able to provide value for your sponsor.

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