Share your stories: Breast radiologists can provide value through public speaking

One way breast radiologists can go above and beyond to help their communities is by speaking about breast cancer and breast cancer screening to audiences of women and their loved ones, according to a new analysis published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

“Breast imaging radiologists are already experienced in communicating with patients in daily practice and can put this experience to use in large-group settings,” wrote Marilyn A. Roubidoux, MD, University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, and colleagues. “In our academic practice, breast radiologists regularly participate in community outreach events about women’s health or breast cancer. These events are opportunities to increase the number of positive engagements between patients and radiologists.”

There is a ton of information out there on breast cancer screening options, the authors noted, but it is not always easy to understand. Patients get confused, and confused patients may not get the cancer screening they need. This is where breast radiologists can make a world of difference.

Getting prepared

Developing a presentation to share with the public does require planning, the authors added. These are four things that speakers need to consider before they stand-up in front of patients and begin to speak:

1. Estimate the demographics of your audience: How old will the attendees be? How much will they already know about their own health? Will breast cancer survivors be attending? These are all questions to ask, the authors explained, because it helps the radiologist “create messages that are relevant.”

2. Select your purpose and your key messages: “Breast imaging and breast cancer have many subtopics,” Roubidoux et al. wrote. “Decide upon your most important messages.”

3. Collect the right resources beforehand: If you’re using a PowerPoint presentation, for example, make sure you use images that are helpful and that you consider copyright as needed.

4. Make your presentation engaging: “Lay audiences may not be accustomed to graphs, statistics, charts, or extensive text,” the authors wrote. “Making scientific information understandable is essential.”

The power of telling stories

Roubidoux and colleagues noted that presentations about breast cancer screening can be improved by telling stories to the audience. Passing on something that happened to a previous patient or something else inspirational that has happened can help breast radiologists connect with their audiences and make a lasting impact.

“Stories generating emotion activate the brain, motivate learners, and are more easily remembered than facts,” they wrote. “Stories are more effective than facts in changing behavior.”