A colleague of mine published an outstanding list of “Public Speaking Tips for New CRAs” and has given us permission to publish it. Elizabeth, thank you for your insights!
The Art of Public Speaking
Public speaking is a true passion of mine and has been an integral component of my clinical research career. From that first SIV (so nervous my hands were shaking) to my first large scale presentation at an academic medical center (less nervous but still some residual jitters presenting to a room full of oncologists) to finally presenting at that first ACRP global conference in 2015, my respect and appreciation for the public speaking process has grown exponentially along the way.
It has so positively impacted my clinical research career that it is my presentation topic at the ACRP global conference in 2023.
Why Effective Public Speaking is Critical to the CRA Career Path
Public speaking is critical to the CRA career path because effective presentation and communication skills are dynamic elements of a successful CRA/site relationship. Several key presentation points emphasized to me at the start of my CRA career are likewise imparted to the CRAs I train/mentor. These are not necessarily general presentation pointers, but rather address the anxious mind and intimidation factor new CRAs experience when speaking for the first time.
This is so often forgotten by new speakers, myself included back in the day. When nervousness causes a mental lapse, panic will ensue. The key is to not necessarily master nerves, but proceed onwards despite nerves, with a stalwart poker face to disguise the public speaking anxiety.
Herein lies the subtle beauty of breath. Breathing is a simple act we take for granted, unrecognized for its unassuming yet provocative power. Breathing slows the nervous system and allows the return of focus. Taking a breath allows for momentary emphasis, with the speaker perceived to be emphasizing a critical point, when in reality, this simple act creates calm amidst the public speaking anxiety.
This is different from, but related to, the above point of breathing. Nervous speakers speak rapidly which can unfortunately transform to “rattling on” if not checked. This nervous “rattling on” can then become the point of concentration for the audience and the message is lost. Pausing and slowing down provides order to rampant thoughts, giving those thoughts time to settle, thus reinstating the message of the presentation to both speaker and audience.
Successful speakers often pause and appear wonderfully reflective, which adds to the luster of the presentation. They may in reality be pausing to restore mental order.
Nothing loses an audience more than a word struggle, and correctly pronouncing clinical words and scientific phrases is critical for retention. Mispronouncing these keywords and phrases can cause a speaker to lose the room rapidly. Practice difficult words with your partner, to a friend, or to your reflection. Repetitive action will cause the material to subconsciously sink in and become your ally when managing speech anxiety.
Smile and be positive
A compliment or positive affirmation of material does wonders for a first or overall impression.
Join Elizabeth at the ACRP Global Conference
Elizabeth will be presenting at the 2023 ACRP Global Conference. Be sure to join her as she addresses this topic!