Talking to your community

On at least a weekly basis, most pelvic rehabilitation providers hear "I didn't know there was therapy for my condition." We also have to field questions about why the medical provider did not refer to rehabilitation before recommending surgery or drugs. One of the best ways for us to improve the lack of awareness in our communities is to go out and speak to them. While we have opportunities throughout our work and personal time to share information about what we do in practice, we can maximize the sharing of information by preparing a more formal option than simply giving our "elevator speech" from time to time.

A community presentation takes a little preparation and possibly a few tools. Fortunately there are many resources available for you to utilize when giving a talk to the public. Here is a look at what you might consider:

  1. The audience- to whom are you going to present information? Find out exactly who, how many, and what the goals of the audience is ahead of time. Showing up to give a talk about urinary incontinence when the group thinks you are speaking about arthritis could be awkward. It is also helpful to make sure there is enough space for those in attendance so you are not distracted by trying to add more chairs, move tables, etc.
  2. The topic- sometimes it is helpful to keep the topic broad, for example, "what does a pelvic rehabilitation provider do?" may be a generally interesting presentation. However, if you are speaking to a bladder pain/interstitial cystitis support group, you may want to me more specific in addressing bladder dysfunction and pain.
  3. The length- community members (and potential patients) want to ask questions. Inquire how much time you will have to speak, and then if there is time allowed for questions and answers. If there is not time allocated for answering questions, leave 10-15 minutes at the end of your presentation (and possibly plan to stick around a few minutes more if needed.)
  4. The presentation- unless you are speaking to medical residents or another professional group, skip the powerpoint. If you can bring a pelvic model, bring a prop like you may have seen an instructor use during a demonstration, or bring a chart or other visual aid, this may allow to you speak more naturally, tell a few stories. It also avoids the inconvenience of dealing with IT issues at the last minute.
  5. The giveaways- always bring with you some business cards and some brochures if you have them. Attendees will want to walk away with something tangible so they can contact you or tell a friend or loved one about your services. There are also sites that allow you to download and print handouts for patients. National sites such as the NIDDK have patient information about urinary incontinence in men or women (click on either word to access the document) and you can see that the handout is not copyrighted. You will also see that the handout is available in both Spanish and English versions. Other giveaways might include a water bottle, a stress-ball to squeeze, or a pen with your clinic name on it.
  6. Where to present- the options are endless, especially if you are willing to be creative and think outside of the doctor's office. Check with your local health clubs, they often allow presenters to come in and share information. Assisted care facilities are used to organizing activities for residents, and local hospitals may allow you to speak. Look on your newspaper community activity page or hospital website and see what support groups are meeting- perhaps a prostate cancer group, bladder pain group, fibromyalgia group, pregnancy class. Contact key educators at a local university, is there a classroom where you can provide a short lecture?
Remember to consider your audience when deciding what information to present. Anatomy is always a nice place to start, especially considering that most pelvic rehab providers did not learn about pelvic muscles until continuing education courses versus at university. A few statistics are great to point out, yet what people really want to hear about is the nuts and bolts of what we do, how we do it (explaining the options of internal versus non-internal work or biofeedback), and how to get access to you.
If you are preparing the presentation on your own, it is appropriate to request time in your work day to accomplish this. It seems that many pelvic rehabilitation providers, even if she is not typically in a management role, is thrust into a marketing role because no one else knows the territory of pelvic rehab and how to answer questions. If you would like some more information about offering a community presentation, you can find some helpful hints by clicking here. The lack of awareness about pelvic rehabilitation will ultimately by conquered by the patients who do learn of our work and who share it with friends, co-workers, and family. We can be part of that process by making the effort to increase the number of people who do know about what we have to offer towards improving quality of life.

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