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Presentations in Medicine & Science: Delivering the Presentation

Resources to help assist you make good presentations in different formats. Posters and oral presentations

Delivering the Presentation

Pre-Talk Preparation:

  • Plan to get there a few minutes early to set up and test the equipment.
  • Dress appropriately for your audience.
  • Turn off your cell phone.

Handouts:

  • Speakers may want to prepare a handout when giving a PowerPoint presentation.
  • Make about 10% more handouts than you expect to use.
  • Distribute handouts at the beginning of your talk than leave some extras by the entrance to the room for latecomers.  

Opening:

  • Jump right in and get to the point.
  • Give your rehearsed opening statement; don't improvise at the last moment.
  • Use the opening to catch the interest and attention of the audience.
  • Briefly state the problem or topic you will be discussing.
  • Briefly summarize your main theme for an idea or solution by restating your initial objectives.

Speaking:

  • Talk at a natural, moderate rate of speech
  • Project your voice; standing up straight helps
  • Speak clearly and distinctly.
  • Repeat critical information.
  • Pause briefly to give your audience time to digest the information on each new slide.
  • Don’t read the slides aloud. Your audience can read them far faster than you can talk.

Body Language:

  • Keep your eyes on the audience
  • Use natural gestures.
  • Don’t turn your back to the audience.
  • Don’t hide behind the lectern.
  • Avoid looking at your notes. Only use them as reference points to keep you on track. Talk, don’t read.

Questions:

  • Always leave time for a few questions at the end of the talk.
  • If you allow questions during the talk, the presentation time will be about 25% more than the practice time.
  • You can jump directly to a slide by typing its number or by right-clicking during the presentation and choosing from the slide titles.
  • Relax. If you’ve done the research you can easily answer most questions.
  • Some questions may be too specific or personal. Politely refuse to answer.
  • If you can’t answer a question, say so. Don’t apologize.  “I don’t have that information. I’ll try to find out for you.”

Length:

  • To end on time, you must PRACTICE!
  • When practicing, try to end early. You need to allow time for audience interruptions and questions.

Demeanor:

  • Show some enthusiasm. Nobody wants to listen to a dull presentation. On the other hand, don’t overdo it. Nobody talks and gestures like a maniac in real life. How would you explain your ideas to a friend?
  • Involve your audience. Ask questions, make eye contact, and use humor.
  • Don’t get distracted by audience noises or movements.
  • You’ll forget a minor point or two. Everybody does.
  • If you temporarily lose your train of thought you can gain time to recover by asking if the audience has any questions.

Conclusion:

  • Concisely summarize your key concepts and the main ideas of your presentation.
  • Resist the temptation to add a few last impromptu words.
  • End your talk with the summary statement or question you have prepared. What do you want them to do? What do you want them to remember?
  • Consider alternatives to “Questions?” for your closing slide. A summary of your key points, a cartoon, a team logo, or a company logo may be stronger.

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