Saturday, November 19, 2011

Public speaking :: Learning experience

Just yesterday I made an oral presentation in local symposium in my hometown (BIDEAS).

The presentation was basically from my thesis research and most of the audiences were people that I already knew through med school or my health research unit.

But still, every time I have to made a presentation, I got a feeling of nervous - despite I have prepared it very well. I know the contents and very informed about what I was doing throughout my research. And of course, I made my own presentation and rehearsed it couple of times days before.

I have talked to myself that: 'There's nothing to worry about, these people won't harm you' and blah blah to motivate myself.

Generally speaking, I would say it's a pity that we're Indonesian are always unprepared for public speaking since we were young.

Just before I left Netherlands, me and my friend (we both Indonesians who experienced master program abroad), who also acknowledged that we're tend to be unprepared for public speaking.

Also in the preparation for material. For example in scientific program, either the speaker always put too much information that it's just too difficult to digest or s/he would present it without enthusiasm - which makes it perfect for audiences to take a nap after lunchtime.

My first learning experience in public speaking, well not really public, it was in a class contained of 20 people actually- was in Amsterdam. I was taking a sexual reproductive health course in Royal Tropical Institute, and they gave us a group assignment. We had to made a small literature review and made a presentation out of it.
At that moment, I was pretty nervous, not that I didn't grasp the material. I was one of the most experienced student in the class really, with enough work experiences to share.
But I had to made a presentation (shared with others students) in English, which is not my first language. And I was not really prepare for public speaking, during my whole life. So lame.

So all I did was encouraging myself, that it couldn't be so bad- and even though it would be bad, it's just a class contained of 20 people that would remembered me as jittery young doctor from Indonesia, forever, anyway...

It turned out well, it's normal to have a high-pitched nervous voice in the beginning but then, as I familiarized with the situation- I could see myself took control.

Back to the conversation that I made with my friend, we both agreed that in Netherlands (or mostly west Europe) students were used to make a oral presentation/ public speaking since they were young. And we could see that is really an advantage if you want to be internationally (or nationally) recognized as professionals, either as a lecturer, researcher/scientist, or whatever it is. Because the presentation/ public speaking is how you 'sell yourselves' and how you also sell your content of presentation, as one package.

If I could made a change in my med school, I will definitely propose that med students should engage more in scientific events and practice for oral presentation/ public speakings.

During the International conference last month in Barcelona, I realized that Indonesians are not lack of experts nor the quality of experts themselves are highly competitive for international standard. But mostly we're Indonesians are (1) not confident enough, to present something in English (even though some of us are good enough if we have to present it in Indonesians), and/or (2) for the same reason, not confident to present it in the front of international scope.
Which is very unfortunate for scientific world, because we have so much to share in terms of knowledge or experiences.

Again, I will mention Helen Rees- my favorite speaker throughout the International conference in Bcn. Just checked out in the website and they put her presentation (in .pdf file) so we can download it and take a look how neat she has made it. Also, the most stunning presentation that I've seen in my whole life (besides Elizabeth Pisani when she's giving lecture in our class in Copenhagen).

Hope you enjoy it too :)

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