Beyond PowerPoint- Presentation Style for Medical Educators
Improving presentation skills requires understanding the three interlocking parts of any presentation
and improving each one in turn. Effective presentations combine the following:
A Message that is short, focused, and relevant
Visuals that are simply designed and uncluttered
A Delivery that is natural, authentic, and conversational
The message is king. Your job is to master the content, organize it well, fill it with meaning, and
make it accessible for your audience.
“If you want to improve your presentation, start by improving the content”
A. Organization
 Start organizing content by asking “What is my central point?” or. “If they remember just
one thing about this presentation, what do I want it to be?”
 Establish relevance with the audience-emphasize the “why” to inspire connection with
material; as opposed to “what” to know for an exam or “how” something works
 Develop your talk around ideas, without using a prescribed bullet point format.
 Use paper or a whiteboard to sketch out ideas: it helps you identify key points and visualize a
logical flow; similar to the process of creating a storyboard.
 Using sticky notes allows you to easily rearrange ideas on the white board
 The more you use stories around your ideas, the more likely you will connect with your
audience. For many in clinical practice, the best examples are the actual clinical cases you see.
B. Restraint
 After brainstorming for ideas or stories that support your central point, you must
organize them and maintain focus. Keeping your central purpose in mind, everything in
the presentation should descend from and relate to it.
 Your goal should be to reduce, restrict, and refine until you have 3-4 ideas left that
support the central purpose
 A word about presenting data: Your job is to sift through the data, summarize, interpret,
present it clearly, draw conclusions, and help the audience find meaning in it. Avoid
dumping large amounts of data on the audience.
“If you want to improve your presentation, get less content”
C. Structure
 Make the presentation flow with a basic structure- A good general structure for a
presentation is:
1. Begin with a central purpose. Create a powerful introduction
2. Describe the problem at hand.
3. Describe, with specific examples, how it relates to your audience
4. Provide information about how to improve the problem. (your 3-4 key points)
5. Describe the next steps-a call to action. Cycle back to central purpose.
Remember that what you say last will be remembered most, so be sure to re-emphasize
your central point at the end.
 The operative word for your visuals is simplicity-the less clutter on your slides, the more
powerful your visual message will become.
 Slides should be as visual as possible and support your main points quickly, efficiently,
and powerfully.
 The visuals should be a necessary component of the talk, not overpowering the
presenter, and not just decoration or reminder notes.
 Visual are meant to support your narration as a speaker, not make you superfluous.
 There is no “correct” formula or agreed upon set of rules for slide design, but…if you’d
like to improve immediately do these simple things:
o Use sans serif fonts; they are generally best for large presentations, and make
sure it can be read from the back of the room.
o Make slides that reinforce your words, not repeat them. Never turn your back on
the audience and read text from the slide word for word. It diminishes your
o Avoid bullet points on slides
o Avoid clipart images. As much as possible, use high quality stock photography
o Avoid flashy transitions-the dissolves, spins, words wooshing in or out, or small
creatures doing jumping jacks in the corner of the screen. These often do little to
support the message and can be distracting. Your time is better spent crafting the
message and mastering your delivery.
o Nothing in your slide should be superfluous, ever.
Tips to appear confident, relaxed, and professional
1. Stand tall-don’t rock, sway, shuffle, or lean
2. Keep your head and eyes up
3. Smile-sincerely
4. Never retreat from the audience
5. Move with purpose, energy, and enthusiasm
Tips to avoid verbal fillers
1. Identify them. To improve, you must videotape yourself or solicit honest feedback
2. Recognize patterns (typically at the transition points of a presentation or thought)
3. Anticipate
4. Pause and resist the urge to fill
Tips to reduce anxiety
1. Rehearse in 3-5 minute segments.
2. Memorize the first 2 minutes-when you nail it, it will help you settle into a rhythm.
3. Videotape yourself; audiotape
4. Use speaker notes
5. Visualize success
6. Deep breathing
7. Exercise
8. Be Yourself!
9. If nothing else, take comfort in knowing that the audience wants you to succeed!
Tips for engaging your audience
1. Tell them up front that participation is expected
2. Ask a question and wait for a response
3. Say “write this down”
4. Use props-maps, flipcharts, dry erase boards, drawings. Set them up throughout the
room to create movement and energy
5. Use an outline that requires them to fill in the blank
6. Use them in your stories or examples
7. Use names. Helps refocus the audience
8. Ask their opinion
9. Conduct a survey: Show of hands
10. Group discussions and assignments
11. Share something current and relevant
12. Use short video clips that match your message
13. Reward someone for a correct response
Suggested Resources
The Exceptional Presenter
By Tim Koegel
Presentation Zen
Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery
By Garr Reynolds
Presentation Zen Design
Simple Design Principles and Techniques to Enhance Your Presentations
By Garr Reynolds
The Naked Presenter
Delivering Powerful Presentations With or Without Slides
By Garr Reynolds
The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations
By Nancy Duarte
Present Visual Stories That Transform Audiences
By Nancy Duarte
Beyond Bullet Points
By Cliff Atkinson
Anything by Edward Tufte (for the advanced learner)
“Four Type Rules For Presentations”
“What are the best fonts for making powerpoint presentation slides?”
“Top 10 Presentations Ever”
“Effective Presentation Techniques”
“10 Rules to Instantly Improve Your Presentations”
Note and Point (great creative examples of Powerpoint and Keynote presentations)
Nancy Duarte
Guy Kawasaki
Garr Reynolds
Seth Godin
Sample Presentations (Video)
The Last Lecture-Randy Pausch (incredibly inspirational)
Dick Hardt-Keynote Identity 2.0
Technology, Design, Entertainment (TED)
Comedian Demetri Martin (low-tech presentation, hilarious)
Corbis images

Beyond PowerPoint Handout