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 Published: 29/11/2011

how to give presentation

Talking in front of an audience is often a terrifying experience for many medical and nursing personnel.  In Newborn Services, there is an expectation that staff will at some point present talks to an audience of peers or seniors.  For registrars, the usual forums are Grand Rounds, Journal Clubs, and Teaching Sessions.  For many registrars, it is the most detailed presentation they have ever given.

Every individual has their own style of presentation, but there are some important principles around presentations which make things easier for the person giving it and the audience receiving.  Following some basic rules around preparation and presentation style can make an “average” presentation stand out, whereas taking risks with the topic or your presentation can make a talk with huge potential memorable for all the wrong reasons.


Seek guidance and support from senior colleagues

  • This is critically important.  Speak with someone – your mentor, supervisor, or other approachable specialist – well ahead of the date.  This should be a general discussion (e.g. “I am thinking about talking about ….”).
    • Apart from telling you if someone just presented that topic last week, they should be able to give you some direction about what angle you should adopt, what areas you should concentrate on, and where to look for information.
  • When you are further along, you should discuss it with them again to make sure you are on the right track prior to the talk (it is very easy to get sidetracked and lose the plot with too much detail or by concentrating on something which is perhaps not relevant).  You may use this opportunity to show them your draft presentation so they can check your content.


You can never be too prepared

  • This does not mean putting absolutely everything you have ever read about the topic into your presentation.
  • It means that you should know your presentation well - if you know what's in it, then it is easier to emphasise things that you think are important, and to breeze over things that only need a brief mention.
  • It will also make it easier for you when someone asks that question that you dreaded being asked.


Don't be afraid to interpret and summarise

  • You will need to do lots of preparation.  This will involve reading contradictory papers or articles, and formulating your opinion on the value of the literature available.
  • Don't be afraid to present what you think (but talk to your supervisor or mentor about it before you put your neck on the line).


Follow a logical structure and sequence

  • See the links to the left for suggested Grand Round and Journal Club structures.
  • By all means deviate if it suits the talk, but make sure you are not jumping all over the place as you will lose your audience. 


Leave time for discussion

  • Don’t feel obliged to fill the whole time slot - for a one hour session, you should aim to leave 15-20 minutes for discussion.


Look for local data

  • Is there some local information that we can provide you with that is relevant?  David Knight and Carl Kuschel can help with this.

Carl Kuschel and Malcolm Battin, August 2004