Why you should go for simplicity during your next medical presentation

This video will provide you with hands-on tips and tricks to boost your success rate on grand-rounds, talks at conferences or wherever else you want to speak.

Kathleen D. Pagana, PhD CSP™
Kathleen D. Pagana, PhD CSP™
17th Jul 2017 • 3m read

Less is more when it comes to effective presentations. We've all sat through horrible presentations. You know the ones. Slides packed with information, tiny font sizing, cheesy animations. This video uncovers common presentation pitfalls and how you can avoid them to deliver a punchy speech worth remembering.

This video was taken from our hands-on and CME accredited Presentation Essentials for Clinicians course.

Video Transcript

[00:00:00] Mark Twain is often credited with saying, I didn't have time to write a short letter so I wrote a long one instead. This same idea can relate to designing effective slides, saying something with fewer words requires more time and more effort. As we discussed in the last lesson, it is far easier to load content on a slide and plan to read it. However, the basic principle of slide design is clarity. Simplicity is best. Here are some slide design guidelines

[00:00:30] from Nancy Duarte. One, can your audience effectively process your slide message within three seconds. Think of billboards along the side of the road. The driver should be able to glance at the billboard and quickly process the information. If the billboard were dense with content, the driver could crash, while trying to read the message. Number two, aim for a low word count. Many experts recommend six or less words per slide. If you have an abundance of words, the audience will read the slide faster

[00:01:00] than you can explain it, then they can get agitated or bored waiting for you to catch up. Point three, it can be helpful to split content across more than one slide. Putting too much on a slide, as in this example, can be considered poor planning on the part of the presenter. Can you see the difference in splitting the content across two slides? Number four, consider using animation to reveal text. This can help break it up and avoid clutter on one slide. But don't just animate just for the sake

[00:01:30] of using it because it can also be distracting. For example, there are three items on the slide. Do you want the audience to see them all at one time? Isn't it a better idea to build your text in sequence rather than have the audience jump ahead of the speaker? A word of caution regarding animation. Don't animate your slides unless it adds some type of meaning or value to the content. Unnecessary animation can be distracting and serves no purpose to your audience. Number five, if you

[00:02:00] use bullets at all, use them sparingly and avoid sub-bullet points. Think of your key bullet points as newspaper headlines, keep them short. Try to avoid the extra visual complexity of sub-bullet points, as in this example. Number six, watch grammar. Write each line in a parallel structure, in other words, each should begin with the same part of the speech, verb as in this example, noun, adjective, etc. This will help simplify

[00:02:30] the slide design. Number seven, protect your white space. Keep some white space for visual breathing room on every slide. White space isn't necessarily white. It refers to unused areas of a slide. It's a very important aspect of slide design. In general, if you need to sacrifice white space to add content, the content is too tightly packed. Clutter is a sign of design failure, as in this example. Number eight, consider your font size. Many speakers use

[00:03:00] a small font because they don't know the material well enough and they think more is better, that's a mistake. Use a font size no smaller than 30 points. This will make you find the most salient points and know how to explain them well. A large font supports simplicity because it also limits the amount of text on a slide. Check and make sure you can read your slides from the back of the room. Following these guidelines will give you the clarity you need for a general presentation. I highly recommend reading Slide:ology by

[00:03:30] Nancy Duarte. If you enjoy this video, make sure to check out our medical presentation essentials course and register for a free trial account, which will give you access to selected videos and quizzes from the course. You can earn CME credits with every Medmastery course. If you want to learn more about how Medmastery can help you become a great clinician, be sure to watch the About Medmastery video.