Optometric Management Tip # 93 - Wednesday, October 29, 2003
Generate interest in contact lenses with a patient seminar
How does the public define an expert on any subject? It's the person who presents a seminar. Hosting a patient seminar is an easy and inexpensive way to increase your contact lens practice. There are so many new developments in contact lenses, and there is a segment of the public that wants more information, so it's a natural topic for a seminar.
Before you reject the idea because you "don't do public speaking", let me show you how easy it is. Remember, it's just like talking to a patient, and you do that every day. And the only people who attend a seminar are those who are interested in the topic - so the group will be receptive.
Here are the step-by-step ways to go about it.
Tips for the lecture
- Pick a topic. You need to be more specific than simply contact lenses. "Contacts for Bifocal Wearers" is a great one. Cosmetic color lenses or non-surgical myopia reduction are others.
- Where will you hold it? Your office is the natural spot - in your reception area or optical. Wherever you can place lots of chairs. If not your office, maybe the library?
- When to hold it? I think a weekday evening after work is best, possibly at 5pm, which allows people to come straight from work and not have to go out after dinner. Or 7pm works too.
- Serve refreshments... coffee, soft drinks, cookies, snacks.
- Invite your own patient base and the general public. Send invitations to your patients that meet the criteria, such as between ages 40 and 60 and a last visit within 2 years.
- Run a newspaper ad announcing the seminar. State that reservations are required. This is great PR for your practice... even people who don't come to the seminar will still perceive you as an expert and a leader.
- Your staff will need to be present, you may have to pay overtime, or hold it during normal office hours and simply don't schedule any appointments during that period.
- Plan on talking for about 20 minutes, then taking questions. It needs to be short and simple. This is not a CE lecture. You may want to follow with something special - see the next point.
- Consider a one-on-one review of interested candidates. If they are your patients, you can review the chart. If they are new to your practice, have a tech neutralize their glasses or do an autorefraction. Or, do a live fitting on a patient in front of the group - great for cosmetic lenses - sort of an eye makeover. Have a local salon owner join you and give make-up tips.
- Have all the attendees register, so you can send a follow-up mailing.
- Using slides or transparencies is an easy way to organize your talk and to guide you through what you want to say without the need for notes (they are your notes). Don't put everything on the slides - just the main points and then you can elaborate.
- If you have a computer, consider making slides on Microsoft PowerPoint. Use one the program's templates and just type what you want to show on the slide. You may be able to borrow an LCD projector if you don't have one, or connect your PC to a TV set.
- Another easy visual aid is to make transparencies and use an overhead projector. These projectors are fairly inexpensive to buy (Office Depot) and will serve you for future seminars and staff meetings. You can load blank transparency sheets in any photocopier and simply copy from plain paper (which is printed with your slide text - or diagrams). When you type up your pages, use large fonts, like about 36, and use bullet points.
- If there is a short video available on the subject, show it.
- Provide AOA or corporate brochures on your subject for people to take home.
- At the end of the seminar, tell the audience what to do next... i.e. "if you want to try these lenses, make an appointment before you leave tonight."
Best wishes for continued success,
Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Chief Optometric Editor, Optometric Management