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Nova scientia

On-line version ISSN 2007-0705


MONTE-LUNA, Pablo del; GUZMAN DEL PROO, Sergio Antonio  and  CRUZ-ESCALONA, Víctor Hugo. Is experience the only way to improve public speaking in science?. Nova scientia [online]. 2015, vol.7, n.14, pp.601-621. ISSN 2007-0705.


Any science practitioner is constantly exposed to public speaking (PS) situations: conferences, congresses, symposia, workshops, etc.; thus it is essential to communicate our ideas in a clear and convincing manner during an oral presentation. Professionals and students alike, often assume that the skills for PS are achieved and developed only by practicing. However, in PS situations it is common that experienced professionals deliver deficient oral presentations. The hypothesis of this study is that experience by itself is not the only way to acquire such skills, but it is possible to improve the presentation skills of a group of science students by learning the scientific rationale of PS.


We applied a public speaking performance test (Rapee test) to a group of 15 postgraduate students of marine sciences, after a brief presentation, before and after taking a course on PS. During the course we examined the science underlying the PS, PS protocols in science and the application of graphic design principles into visual supporting material of oral presentations. The results of the Rapee test applied before and after the course were compared using a test for difference between means of independent samples (p value of 0.05).


The groups' average grade before the course indicated a low performance (48 points out of 68). After taking the course of PS, this average grade significantly increased (from 48 to 57 points), which allows to not reject the hypothesis.

Discussion or Conclusion:

These results suggest that the students, regardless their previous experience, can improve their PS performance and develop efficient oral presentations if they are properly instructed with the basic scientific principles of the PS. If a constant practice is also considered, the result will likely be an evident control of PS situations, At least within the scientific community, there are too few individuals that have developed skills for PS, that for the vast majority it is recommendable to receive an appropriate instruction of the scientific rationale behind the PS.

Keywords : Oral presentation; scientific communication; public speech anxiety; stage fright; transparency illusion.

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