numero rivista e pagine: HSR Proceedings in Intensive Care and Cardiovascular Anesthesia 2011; 3(3): 207-208
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I can't get (or give) no satisfaction....

Authors: M. John*

Head of Medical Humanities International MD Program, Professor of Biomedical Communication Skills, Faculty of Medicine, Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, Milan, Italy

Corresponding author: * Corresponding author:
Prof. Michael John
UniversitÓ Vita-Salute San Raffaele
Via Olgettina, 48 - 20132 Milan, Italy
E-mail: michael.john@hsr.it

Public speaking is not at all easy, and for many people it is not at all pleasant. In this series of articles we have already spoken about how nerves can seriously harm your performance and impair data transmission. Speakers are generally nervous before any kind of audience, but all the more so when it is made up of peers, because they have a certain degree of expectation. Naturally, they want to do it properly and give a good impression. Indeed, most people that receive the highly sought after opportunity to speak in public will maybe sleep very badly the night before the event, especially when they are inexperienced undergraduate university students, postgraduate clinical residents or young researchers attempting to navigate the uncertain oceans of the biomedical community. Yet, even the seasoned speaker will be a bit nervous. Being a little nervous is normal, even healthy.
Unfortunately, the story does not end here. Another type of presenter exists. A presenter who sleeps very well the night before the event as he (or she, of course) has no expectations whatsoever, apart from maybe some desire to climb the career ladder. This kind of speaker will transmit data for the sake of transmitting it and has no interest whatsoever in interesting, let alone involving, the audience, whether it be filled with peers or pagans. This is the passionless presenter.
What do I mean exactly when I use the word passionless? The word passion is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as a strong liking or desire for devotion to some activity, object or concept. An example might be: Everyone could see the passion in his approach to the work. Passionless, therefore, is when this enthusiasm and dynamism is not present. It would be true to say that innumerable people nowadays can be described with the adjective passionless as far as their work is concerned, and not only public speakers from the world of biomedicine. Yet, it is truly difficult to understand why anyone should want to enter the world of clinical medicine or research if they are not prepared and willing to eventually share what they know and what they have discovered with the rest of the community.
How often have you seen these people perform at departmental meetings or, worse still, at international congresses where you can immediately tell from the flat, almost robotic monotone drone of the voice and the total lack of intonation variation that they would prefer to be elsewhere? How often have you asked yourselves why the presenter is speaking only to his slides, avoiding any kind of eye contact whatsoever? How often have you lost interest immediately in a presentation, even when the data might be rather interesting, because you have the distinct impression that the speaker couldn’t care less whether you understand what he’s saying or not? Sad, don’t you agree?
Remember, therefore, not to turn into the passionless presenter. Becoming expert at something need not automatically mean that you should also become cynical. The chance to speak in public is an honor that you should always enjoy. I personally relish in the chance to speak with audiences of all kinds, from undergraduates to PhD students, from clinical residents to university professors at peer congresses, from elementary-grade schoolchildren to a group of pensioners at the local civic center. The dedication is always the same. The presentation, that generally I have given before, is never mere regurgitation. I always add new data and try to improve my slides by changing the template, or maybe the images, to add a touch of freshness to my story. Moreover, this modification is for my benefit as the audience has no idea that I have changed the slides in any way because they have never seen it before. Of course, we need valid data, but let us take that for granted this time around. It is simple to have interesting data for the audience to study. It is even more simple to create beautiful PowerPoints in order to show off these data. Stimulation, dynamism and passion are the final ingredient. These are the things which act as a glue to keep the rest from falling to pieces. Please remember this, always. Your audience will thank you for it.


'This is the eleventh of a series of articles on this topic. Send any questions to michael.john@hsr.it who will answer them as part of this column'