Leave These 3 Thoughts Behind And Submit An Abstract For NANT 9

By Sue Ludwig

Are you wondering, “Is this the year I’m going to submit to speak or present a poster?”. Raise your hand if you’re on the fence. 

That’s what several of the speakers and poster presenters at NANT 8 were thinking last year at this time!  

But some of them decided to take a leap and submitted an abstract. After all, they were doing great work that could help other units! And there they were in April, speaking on stage or in poster sessions to an international audience.  

Decisions like this can open doors for you that you can’t even imagine. My speaking ‘career’ began simply because I said YES to our medical director when asked to present at a regional neonatology conference. I was scared to death. I did it anyway. (Which makes it sound easy, but it was not. There was shaking involved. And doubt. And each of the thoughts you see below.) 

NOTE: The barriers below do not surface only for those who are new to public speaking. Ask the speakers you most admire, and they will likely tell you they have flashes of all of these thoughts and feelings, especially if speaking to a new audience or their closest peers, which is often more difficult than speaking to strangers. 

It’s time to banish the 3 thoughts that keep you from clicking SUBMIT: 

1) I’M A FRAUD: “No one would want to hear me speak. I’m no expert.  I don’t know enough. My inadequacies will be exposed. What if someone asks me a question and I don’t know the answer?” 

Even though you have over 10 years of experience? Or 25? Or 40? Katie, who spoke in 2016, was a doctoral student at the time – she walked right through her (verbalized) fear and onto the stage to speak to an international audience. Many of the participants had been doing this work longer than she’d been alive. She did it anyway and she did it well. 

Consider what you DO know, rather than focusing on what you do not know. And think back on your career and life- have you ever talked yourself out of fear? Nope. You got over your fear by walking straight through it. Again and again. 

2) COMPARISON: “My project/research/speaking ability isn’t as compelling as [fill in the blank].” 

This is a great version of self-sabotage. It will keep you stuck 100% of the time. [Fill in the blank] might be a fabulous speaker. But there is only one you. [Fill in the blank] couldn’t be you if she tried. Go watch 10 different TED talks and you’ll see what I mean. There is no ONE way to be amazing. Just YOUR way. 

“And my abstract probably won’t be accepted because it’s not as good as [fill in the blank].” 

Here’s the thing: Maybe it will be accepted, maybe it won’t. But there’s a 100% chance it won’t be if we never see it. 

Or my personal favorite

3) WAITING FOR UTOPIA: “I’ll submit next year when my life is in order and everything is perfect.” 

There is a universal assumption that there will come a time when your calendar is blank and you can finally accomplish all those things you wanted to do someday. Spoiler alert: this never happens.  

The people that submit an abstract are often up til 2am finalizing their objectives or working on Saturdays to get it all done. They do not have time, they make time. 

Of course, there are years that are less ideal to submit, and that’s understandable. It’s imperative to respect your own vision and values and priorities. Just take notice if you hear yourself say ‘this isn’t a good year’ every year.  

This is what I know:  therapists want to hear from you (regardless of your discipline) if you’re doing great work that benefits babies in the NICU.  Research, quality improvement, implementing practices and programs, collaborative efforts to change culture or practice – your contributions help your colleagues persevere and grow in this specialty.  

There is no one like you on the whole planet. No one can teach us just like you can! 

Is this the year? 

Click here to submit before the deadline – 11 days left – and nothing makes you more productive than the last minute! 

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You are not alone anymore. You do not have to reinvent every single wheel. NANT and your colleagues are waiting to support you!

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