Introductory remarks and
TIME SENSITIVE instructions from JH
Having seen me present at our public (and ultimately televised) lecture series on epidemiology last Fall,
Dr Pekau asked me to give one of the lectures in your Concordia seminar.
I was happy to accept, and I look forward to doing so and to meeting you.
I did ask what the purpose of the seminar
was, and how much guidance and practice you get before you have to hand in your presentation at the end of the course.
It seems that your main preparation for it is by passively observing the performance of the speakers he has invited.
I am a big believer in the 'see one, do one, teach one' learning format, and so I proposed that
my session should explicitly emphasize, and sensitize you to, what makes for good communication,
both in writing and in spoken material. You can read in my piece about what I was NOT taught
in graduate school. As I look back, I would change what manager Yogi Berra said,
'baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical' to
'our profession is 120% communication and the other 25% is technical'.
I don't think it's enough to just being given written feedback
at the end of the course or just being told you work was given a pass,
without ever having practiced ahead of time.
A trainee surgeon would not be allowed to just observe 8-10 operations, and then do
an entire one on his/her own: (s)he would start slowly, be given feedback along the way, polish each step and
then do the entire one -- but not alone.
Its just the same in your profession. Ultimately, for surgeons, the bottom-line is
the technical act; for you the equivalent is communication, something not all surgeons
are good at, no matter how hard their instructors try. And (sadly) many of
the rest of us were never formally instructed in this art.
A good way to appreciate what it takes to be a good 'one-to-many' communicator
is to first become aware of what matters, and then to practice, practice, practice, starting with some very small tasks.
And so, I am proposing to spend half of my time with you
on Sept 25 reacting to several short (3 minute) presentations, which I am asking teams of you to prepare ahead of time,
so that your classmates and I can give on-the-spot friendly feedback. I am not a professional in
how to teach communication (I leave that to the Dale Carnegie people [see the invite from
their Montreal office]. And I am not promising that one can perfect one's skills
by preparing and delivering a single 3-minute presentation or 250-word summary. But we can make a start!
I have prepared and listed below a long list of possible topics, and links to the 'raw material'.
- HOW (WE WILL PROCEED):
- Your team (of 3) chooses its preferred topics.
- One of the team emails the team name, and its list of preferred topics, to
by SEPTEMBER 15 (list 2-4 in case another team has already emailed with some of the same choices)
and he will confirm your choice, giving you the first one on your list that has not
already been taken.
Between then and the 25th, read through the Guidelines for good communication, and use them to
create your first attempt. And email it to JH before the class on the 25th.