When speaking in front of an audience, only 15% of what actually reaches the public corresponds to the spoken message. In contrast, more than half the information retained by listeners lies in nonverbal communication. Indeed, the lecturer’s posture, gesture and eye gaze tell a lot more on how he/she feels than mere words.
These courses organized by the Esteve Foundation on how to perform oral presentations in biomedicine attempt to approach all the aspects directly related to this skill. No matter how good the content selections are, how clearly and orderly the data are exposed and how reliable the audiovisual support is: they’ll all be clean forgotten if the speaker’s enunciation, eye contact, posture and audience exchange are poor.
This eighth edition, held on 18 and 19 May 2009 in Barcelona, was again imparted by four teachers that combine the two approaches. On the one hand, family physician Elena Muñoz and Pharmacology professor Maria Isabel Martín unveiled the keys for a good biomedical presentation. On the other hand, professional actors Àlex Mañas and Aina Clotet provided some tricks for good vocal and bodily expression.
Theory and practice were combined during these two work days. The 22 attendants had to perform different exercises to put their communication skills to the test. The objective was to perfect hand movements and body posture, to profit from eye gaze, to improve improvisational capacity, to overcome embarrassing situations, etc.
In the last course session, consisting in performing a ten-minute presentation, each student had to put into practice the knowledge acquired during the previous hours. That is when the many factors involved in a presentation are evidenced, from the size and color of the letters in a slide to the speed and loudness of the speaker’s voice. The golden rule, however, is self-confidence, particularly when facing an audience involves significant psychological erosion.