Woman sitting at wooden desk working at black laptopIn a post from February 2015, Michelle Melin-Rogovin discussed strategies for speaking with investigators to help them remember, understand and make decisions. Read the full article here.

Get to the Point, and Get to it Fast

Humans, on average, can understand the written word 266% faster than the spoken word. In today’s tech-savvy world, that means that a normal human conversation is a losing battle against texts and emails. From the moment that you step into an investigator’s office, you are at a disadvantage to anything that beeps or vibrates. In order to rescue the conversation, get to the point and get to it fast. Investigators often devote between 50-60 hours a week to their clinical responsibilities, teaching commitments, and research endeavors, and a mere 1% to research administration.

Preparation is Key to In-Person Meeting Success

Before you even step in the door, your investigator is wondering if this meeting is a waste of his or her time. In order to truly capture their attention, you need to be prepared for the meeting. Take these steps to prepare:

  1. Send the “reason for the meeting” background in the calendar invitation so that both you and the PI are aware of what is going to be discussed.
  2. Have a list of questions or decisions that need to be made in order to get the information you need accurately and succinctly. It’s best to keep things short; do not pack too much information into one meeting.
  3. Anticipate questions that the investigator may have and prepare a response ahead of time.
  4. Use lay language during the meeting. This sounds backwards because normally it is the scientists who need to explain complex jargon, but don’t forget that we have our own lingo that can be difficult to explain. Watch out for those acronyms!
  5. Set the tone for future meetings by ending the meeting on a positive note. Investigators should feel empowered to manage their projects, and encouraged to ask questions and work proactively to manage risks.

Sending E-Mails to your Investigators

We’ve learned that the written word is more easily consumed than the a verbal interaction, so it is logical that we often resort to email communication with our investigators. When emailing, keep in mind the following tips.

  1. Keep the total email volume down. When working on a project, save up several questions before sending an email. Cut the inbox traffic and the investigator will be more likely to read and respond to your emails.
  2. Keep the email short and clear. Using numbered questions in a succinct quick format is always best. Keep in mind that your investigator will probably be reading the email from their phone. Try to keep the emails to 5 lines or less.
  3. Again, leave the jargon at home. Just because you are trying to keep the email short doesn’t mean you can use every acronym in the book. Keep it short, but keep it readable.
  4. Always include your contact information and encourage your study teams to contact you with any questions or concerns.
  5. Repeat yourself often. Do not assume that an investigator remembers your last conversation—even if it’s the same one you’ve been having for weeks. Always provide a little background on what is needed and why it is important.

When it’s Time to Pick-Up the Phone

There are times it’s simply best to pick up the phone and talk to your investigator. When this happens, there are a few tips you should keep in mind.

  1. Schedule a time for all phone calls by sending a calendar meeting request. And, just as you do for an in-person meeting, include the purpose of the meeting inside the calendar request.
  2. Don’t get tied to the default 30 minutes. You can schedule a meeting for anytime, so if it helps, schedule from 2:10 – 2:20 to catch the investigator between previously scheduled meetings.
  3. Know when to quit. If the investigator is confused or distracted during the phone call, suggest that the two of you meet in person later that day to clarify the topic that needs to be addressed.
  4. Document the conversation with your grant administration files to ensure retention of important information or decision outcomes.
  5. Be respectful and end on time. Phone calls can seem informal at times, but do relax and let yourself slip past the allotted time. Be respectful by ending the meeting on time.

Again, this information was gleamed from a wonderful post by Michelle Melin-Rogovin in from February 2015 which discussed strategies for speaking with investigators to help them remember, understand and make decisions. Read the full article here.

References:

Melin-Rogovin, M. (2015, February 6). Get To The Point: Strategies for Speaking with Investigators to Help them Remember, Understand and Make Decisions. Retrieved October 9, 2015, from http://researchadministrationnation.com/2015/02/06/get-to-the-point-strategies-for-speaking-with-investigators-to-help-them-remember-understand-and-make-decisions/