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Professional Presentation: Don’t Be in the Crowd

The lights are dimmed. The voices of the crowd slowly become a murmur and then fall silent. You hear the host welcome you to join them. The lights are so bright you can’t see the audience as you move across the stage. They hand you the proverbial sterile processing mic. Everyone is ready and waiting. Are you ready to give your professional presentation?

Our purpose, passion, mission, core values, and vocation are laid out for everyone to see. The crowd will interpret the information we present and form their own impression of us. What they take away from this encounter is based completely upon us. However, this type of impression is not limited to a literal stage; we professionally present ourselves daily.

When we present, we are formally giving something away to another individual. Whether it’s a prize, advice, or a piece of our mind, an exchange occurs. This is why the term “presentation” is associated with the formal scenario previously described. We are quick to default to a classic presentation with slides and everyone listening to a speaker; however, our professional presentation is not limited to the proverbial stage.

In some form or another, we professionally present ourselves every day. In every interaction we have at work, online, and even face to face, we convey information about who we are as people and professionals. No slide deck required. The introductions, speech, and information we relay will leave an impression on that individual. Our interaction is a factor in whether or not they leave informed, inspired, disgruntled, or even confused. We can absolutely determine how we want to present ourselves in an authentic way. This level of self-awareness and dedication to presentation can have lasting and positive effects on our professional development journey.

We are the keynote speakers in our professional presentation. While we can’t control what other people think about us or the impressions they have, we can be confident in who we are professionally and how we demonstrate that. This requires self-evaluation. To raise professional presentation self-awareness, we must challenge the phrase “Well, that’s just me.” This is a hard stop we must take for our professional development.

If anyone ever asks us to act in a way that doesn’t represent who we are as a person or professional, that is a red flag! Requests (or demands) that actively make us question our morals, ethics, and integrity must be noted. This hard stop for honest assessment asks us to pause and look at how “that’s just me” may be stunting our professional development. If the way we carry ourselves and relay our message is not helping us reach our goals, then it is not serving us. Ego and false pride personify themselves through shallow actions that are revered because we celebrate ourselves rather than the results of our actions. This honest assessment doesn’t ask us to determine if we were right or wrong; it asks us to contribute to the solution and the outcome, not just the point.

As we develop our professional presentation, we are not limited to the way we’ve always presented ourselves. If this hard stop leaves us wanting to revise or completely overhaul our professional presentation, we don’t owe anyone an explanation. This is our authentic selves asking us for the opportunity and permission to support our professional goals.

The best part about professional presentation is that it is not the same as professional impression. An impression is an idea or opinion that is formed by someone else. While we may not be able to tell someone what to think of us, we can present all the qualities we want them to use in their assessment of us. This is a direct representation of our authenticity and what we are shining a light on in professional presentation.

Any anxiety that may arise during this time is the body’s reaction to anticipation. The difference between anxiety and excitement is the mental state we are in. If we are anxious, we are thinking of the future. Stay present in the moment. In conversation, use active listening and interact with the person to ease anxiety. If shyness or fear of initiating a conversation occurs, keep the reason why we want to talk to this person in our present mind. Don’t allow imposter syndrome to use their list of qualifications, and why we admire them, against us.

Let’s get used to the sound of our own voice and presence. When was the last time we really listened to our audible voice and not just the one in our heads? What do we sound like? Get comfortable and familiar with our voice’s tone, pitch, drawl, accent, and any other qualities we didn’t appreciate before. What does our body naturally do when we walk into a room? Take note of the difference in our posture and presence in a space we are comfortable with versus a space we’ve never been in. The way we speak and carry ourselves are key elements of our presentation. It lets individuals know what we think of them and what we think of ourselves.

That’s a wrap
Our professional presentation is going to need room to develop. Remember that practice doesn’t make perfect; an effective strategy in creating a good practice will always get us the outcome we want. The ability to effectively demonstrate and relay who we are as sterile processing professionals is vital in our professional development journey. We don’t have to suffer from stage fright!

If we don’t expect ourselves to be amazing at any new task, process, or thought pattern, then we allow ourselves to appreciate the work we are putting into it. But please don’t start off in a self-deficit. Professional development is a muscle we have to grow. The only way to do this is to constantly stretch and work it out. It may be uncomfortable at first, but we will get better at it. This will require self-assessment, self-awareness, and action. The quote, “All the world’s a stage” resonates to this day. Don’t be in the crowd when it comes to your professional presentation.

Sarah B. Cruz, CSPDT, CRCST, is a quality education program development coordinator for central sterile. As a CS education coordinator, she creates and institutes an education program in central sterile departments. This includes, but is not limited to, the formation of programs that onboard new employees, develop competencies, certify staff, develop LEAN process improvements, and implement standards of best practices and professional practices.

Sarah’s dedication to her industry continues as the creator and president of PRETREAT CSS, LLC, a mentorship platform used to educate, motivate, and support CS technicians’ professional development. Through tangible actions and physical indicators of success, Sarah knows central sterile services is an excellent profession to develop in as a career. She vocalizes her passion through published articles, social media, webinars, and public speaking. As an industry expert, she is passionate about her message: put the CSS in SUCCESS!

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