Resources for Women in the Field of Retina

Public speaking doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but these suggestions can help you look and sound like a pro.


1. Do make a scene.

Even in scientific talks, stories catch people’s attention. The first words out of your mouth should be a story, a question, a striking statistic, or a scene that pulls the audience into your presentation. It’s also helpful to create a short catchphrase that summarizes your take-home point (eg, “Any fluid in the retina is just bad!”).

2. Mix things up.

Audiences pay attention better when both the speed and the tone of the speaker varies throughout the talk. When you want to make a key point, slow down dramatically and, counterintuitively, lower the volume of your voice. When you do this, the phrases you say in a low voice and those that follow in a stronger, faster, louder voice, will grab the audience’s attention.

3. Silence is golden—and powerful.

Well-timed pauses allow the audience to digest, process, and understand what you just said. They create suspense, anticipation, and dramatic tension. They also help fast talkers modulate their speed.

4. Make eye contact with multiple people sitting in the audience.

This helps the audience feel locked in and connected to you as the speaker.

5. Engage your audience.

Perform informal polls. Have audience members raise their hands to answer (eg, “By a show of hands, how many people in the audience regularly use OCTA?”). This prevents the audience from becoming distracted and sends the message that they are important to you.

6. Declutter your slides.

Audiences have trouble focusing on slides with too many words. Make sure you have images, audio clips, and videos. Don’t read straight from your slides.

7. Keep it short and sweet.

Long, complex sentences with multiple modifying phrases can put an audience to sleep quickly.

8. Keep an ace or two in your pocket.

Have two or three powerful responses prepared and try to weave them into your presentation regardless of what questions audience members pose.

9. Pardon the interruption.

If you get interrupted (as on a panel), smile and wait patiently for others to stop talking so you can finish your point. Don’t interrupt others.

10. Move with purpose.

For talks in which you have a mobile microphone, synchronize your movement with your message. Although some types of movement can be effective, constant pacing back and forth that is not tied to your message creates distraction.

Amy C. Schefler, MD
• Surgeon at Retina Consultants of Houston, Blanton Eye Institute, Houston Methodist Hospital, and Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, University of Texas Health Sciences, all in Houston, Texas

Sources: Own the Room website. Accessed February 13, 2018; Hoogterp B. Your perfect presentation: Speak in front of any audience anytime anywhere and never be nervous again. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education; 2014; Shames D. Out front: How women can become engaging, memorable, and fearless speakers. Dallas, TX: BenBella Books; 2017


The Women in Retina (WinR) section of the American Society of Retina Specialists (ASRS) was founded in 2007 with the goal of bringing together women members for mentoring, networking, collegiality, and inspiration. Another aspect of the organization is encouraging more women retina specialists and trainees to get involved in medical research, to make podium presentations, to become key opinion leaders, and to take prominent positions in the industry and academia. Current programs that members—especially fellows and early career members—can get involved in include annual luncheons at the Fellows Forum, research presentation sessions at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) Annual Meeting, the Invited Speaker Luncheon at annual ASRS meetings, and traveling scholarships to attend the Women in Ophthalmology meeting or Retina Subspecialty Day at the American Academy of Ophthalmology Annual Meeting. Announcements regarding these programs and scholarships are made through ASRS email newsletters and on the ASRS website.

WinR’s current board of directors consists of Nancy Holekamp, MD, Chair; Judy Kim, MD, Vice Chair; Mina Chung, MD, Treasurer; Camille Palma, MD, Secretary; Jessica Randolph, MD, Communications Chair; Elizabeth Atchison, MD, Fellow-in-Training Chair; and three Members-at-Large: Diana Do, MD; Caroline Baumal, MD; and Zelia Correa, MD.

Upcoming WinR events include a luncheon for members and retina fellows at the ARVO Annual Meeting in May. Additionally, the organization will host its annual luncheon during the 36th ASRS Annual Meeting. For further information and to get involved, visit


This organization came together roughly 30 years ago with the mission of enhancing and improving the professional environment for women ophthalmologists.

Founded in 1981, The Association of Women Surgeons (AWS) is a not-for-profit educational and professional organization with the mission of inspiring, encouraging, and enabling women surgeons to realize their professional and personal goals.

OWL, with its motto Advancing Diversity in Leadership, works across ophthalmology with the mission of providing professional and personal development and creating opportunities for collaboration.


Whether you’re into podcasts or not, if you are interested in the careers of women in retina, you’ll want to subscribe and tune in to episodes 1 and 2 of New Retina Radio, brought to you by the publisher of Retina Today. Check it out by clicking the microphone. Below is a snapshot of what you’ll hear.

Episode 1: Ophthalmologist Barbie

Practicing retina consumes your life. Add a pair of X chromosomes into the mix, and you face a very different set of circumstances. In the debut episode of New Retina Radio, in part 1 of a two-part series, Scott Krzywonos and Ranna Jaraha sit down with Julia Haller, MD; Anat Loewenstein, MD; Jessica Randolph, MD; and Talisa de Carlo, MD—women at various stages in their careers—to learn about how women in retina operate and how men factor into the equation.

Episode 2: Je Ne Sais Quoi

In part 2 of this two-part series, Julia Haller, MD; Anat Loewenstein, MD; Geeta Lalwani, MD; Jessica Randolph, MD; and Talisa de Carlo, MD, discuss the roles men have played in the development of women’s careers, the merits of joining groups such as Women in Retina, and more.

Tags: mentorship, women

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Karen Roman

Janet Burk

About Retina Today

Retina Today is a publication that delivers the latest research and clinical developments from areas such as medical retina, retinal surgery, vitreous, diabetes, retinal imaging, posterior segment oncology and ocular trauma. Each issue provides insight from well-respected specialists on cutting-edge therapies and surgical techniques that are currently in use and on the horizon.