Tips for clinician educators – practice your talks

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Category : Attending Rounds

This week I will give a talk on acid base and electrolyte disorders.  I teach these subjects regularly, yet designing this talk has challenged my skills.  My problem is the curse of knowledge.

The problem is that once we know something—say, the melody of a song—we find it hard to imagine not knowing it. Our knowledge has “cursed” us. We have difficulty sharing it with others, because we can’t readily re-create their state of mind.

At the board in morning report I have learned to “show my work”.  I give the learners plenty of opportunities to ask questions if I become obtuse.  But in designing a talk, I have to anticipate the problems.

So I become the anti Allen Iverson.  I practice.   I first practice 3 weeks previously and got some very good suggestions.

Then again a practiced with different colleagues who pointed out all the assumptions that I should not make in designing the talk.  I sent them an email today:

Thanks greatly for helping me improve my talk. Practice, especially for
talks like this one, always help us improve our delivery and help us get
the message through to our learners. When we write our talks, especially
if we feel like we have some expertise, we get trapped by the curse of
knowledge

I have redone the order of the cases, and hopefully fixed many errors. I
did decide to leave out case #6 to allow more time for careful explication.

If you have time to quickly peruse the slides, I would welcome any further
comments. Again, thanks for helping me improve this talk.

I have given talks for over 30 years.  I’m told that I give good talks.  Practicing always helps me do better.  Fortunately I have colleagues who understand that they have an obligation to give specific critiques.  They did a great job.  Hopefully the talk will go well.  If so, I will once again understand the value of practice.

This is related to a wonderful podcast that I listened to today – How to become great at anything.  We should all value deliberate practice – and this podcast explains the concepts beautifully.

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