Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

Event Details

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Symposium #488
CE Offered: BACB
Improving Public Speaking Skills via Expert Speaker Recommendations and Modified Habit Reversal Therapy
Monday, May 27, 2019
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Fairmont, Second Level, International Ballroom
Area: TBA/EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Danielle Geierman (California State University, Sacramento)
Discussant: Jonathan J. Tarbox (University of Southern California; FirstSteps for Kids)
CE Instructor: Megan R. Heinicke, Ph.D.
Abstract: Public speaking is paramount to an individual’s professional and career development. Proficient speaking is also an important skill for communicating powerful messages to professional audiences (Friman, 2014). For example, Friman urges behavior analysts to use “front of the room” opportunities to help achieve Skinner’s vision of disseminating our science to mainstream audiences. However, public speaking is one of the most commonly reported human fears; thus “front of the room” opportunities are often avoided. This symposium will focus on identifying barriers to fluent public speaking as well as providing recommendations and interventions to improve speaker credibility and effectiveness while speaking in front of an audience. In the first presentation, Dr. Megan Heinicke will present results from a survey of behavior analysts’ public speaking practices as well as public speaking recommendations pulled from interviewing expert public speakers in our field. In the second presentation, Danielle Geierman will present a series of evaluations of modified habit reversal to decrease speech disfluencies (or “filler words” such as “umm” and the inappropriate use of the word “like”). Dr. Jonathan Tarbox will conclude this symposium by providing his remarks on both presentations as well as the importance of disseminating our science via public speaking.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): expert recommendations, habit reversal, public speaking, speech disfluencies
Target Audience: Board Certified Behavior Analysts or students pursuing the BCBA credential
Survey and Interview of Board Certified Behavior Analysts' Public Speaking Practices
MEGAN R. HEINICKE (California State University, Sacramento), Amber Valentino (Trumpet Behavioral Health ), Tyra Paige Sellers (Behavior Analyst Certification Board), Jessica Foster Juanico (Trumpet Behavioral Health)
Abstract: In his 2014 paper, Friman makes 15 recommendations for behavior analysts wishing to improve their public speaking skills and encourages the field of ABA to view public speaking as a mechanism through which we can more broadly disseminate our science. However, for more behavior analysts to engage in public speaking, they must overcome the obstacles and fear associated with the task. Although some behavior-analytic research exists in public speaking, this body of literature is small, and many empirical questions remain. Little is known about why behavior analysts fear public speaking, which skills need to be targeted to improve public speaking skills, and what successful public speakers in our field do to be considered effective and entertaining by audience members. In this study, we 1) surveyed behavior analysts to identify barriers and fears associated with public speaking, and 2) identified and interviewed the most frequently invited public speakers at major ABA conferences. Results from 867 respondents to the survey will be summarized according to themes. In addition, themes from the interviews with 10 frequently invited public speaker will be used to generate a list of recommendations that may be helpful to behavior analysts wishing to improve their public speaking skills.
Evaluating the Efficiency of Modified Habit Reversal for Reducing Speech Disfluencies
DANIELLE GEIERMAN (California State University, Sacramento), Christina Montes (California State University, Sacramento), Megan R. Heinicke (California State University, Sacramento)
Abstract: Recent literature supports using a multi-component awareness training procedure to decrease speech disfluencies for college students (Montes, Heinicke, & Geierman, in press; Spieler & Miltenberger, 2017). However, this procedure can be time-consuming and is likely not feasible in practical settings such as college classrooms or student support centers. The present study aimed to reduce the time commitment required to decrease speech disfluencies by extending previous research in a series of experiments. In Experiment 1, we conducted a component analysis of awareness training to determine if both components studied in previous investigations are necessary to produce meaningful outcomes. In Experiment 2, we evaluated the efficacy of a contingent vibrating pager to determine if an awareness enhancement device reduces training time. Finally, we evaluated the effects of the vibrating pager in conjunction with specific written feedback and graphic feedback on total training time in Experiment 3. Efficacy and efficiency of the interventions across experiments will be discussed along with preliminary recommendations.



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