Guest blogpost.”Challenging the presentations status quo”

I’m conscious this blog can be very much a single opinion but I am very much encouraged by another guest post from Andrew, who came to a lecture on Thursday and made a presentation on the next day…

My name is Andrew and I am a final year medical student. A few days ago I found myself in the unique position of having to present the result of an audit to Ross Fisher and his colleagues the morning after attending Ross’s Presentation Skills talk. At the talk and at the pub afterwards Ross made it colorfully clear as to what he thought of the “the read off the slide-death by Powerpoint” presentation. Needless to say the pressure was on to do better.

So I went home armed with my 3P’s of how to improve my presentation and got to work. Luckily, the doctor who helped me do the audit had already come up with a Powerpoint. It was fairly standard and it contained all the key points we wanted to make. That was the rough outline of my P1, the story. I knew the logical sequence of points I wanted to make and how they could be connected. I found myself a hook, which was the story of a person with the condition I was presenting on. This real person and their hardships was something the audience could empathize with and it seemed to make the presentation (and its statistics) carry just a bit more weight. At this point I started rehearsing. I’d come up with what I wanted to say for each point, often trying many variations until I found the right one, and then started adding in images to accentuate what I was saying. At the end of it I had a general script and mainly images to highlight the scripts key issues. I had my P2(supporting media) and my P3(delivery) ready to go.   

And you know what? It went well. The audience was engaged with what I had to say. They were engaged because the conclusions of my presentation were made a bit more personal, because they could just listen without having to simultaneously read a mass of text, and because my preparation beforehand let me deliver fluidly and confidently. I even made a joke, although I’m sure the laughter was out of politeness. But that brings me to my concluding point. Nobody wants you to go up and fail. They would much rather enjoy your presentation, laugh at your joke and be engaged than sit there sneaking glances at their phone. This level of preparation make take more effort but the rewards for the audience and even your self-confidence as a presenter are definitely worth it.  It is daunting to challenge the “presentation status quo” but having the skills to prepare an interesting one is simply more enjoyable for everyone involved.

Thanks for reading

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