Preparing Slideshows

By Gordon Schiff, MD
Be selective
Weed and re-weed the slides. Then, the night before your presentation, take out another 5 slides. It is better to cover fewer topics richly and in depth, grabbing the audience to be engaged by the ideas/data you are presenting them, than to quickly flash through scores of slides they will barely absorb.

Slide transitions are key
This can make the difference between a slide show that is easy to follow and logically flows from one convincing idea to the next versus one that is constantly losing the audience.

Keep it fresh
Vary slides and their order. Always add a new slide or two or more to keep it interesting and fresh for you, and timely for your audience, so that you both don’t feel like you’re giving a canned talk.

Grab attention
Use stories that are engaging and interesting. Dig up examples about local hospitals or managed care firms for example. Or, magazine covers, dramatic patient stories, headlines, etc. Be enthusiastic.

Quote “them”
Use “their” own literature, ads, journals, etc. to quote “their” language, crassness, profit goals, etc. I love reading Medical Economics or quotes from Wall St Journal for this.

Don’t use slides as a script
Don’t stand with your back to the audience “reading” your slides. This prevents you from facing the audience and making the talk engaging. (It is fine to use a pointer and refer back-and-forth, though do beware of shaky hands). If using a LCD, set up your laptop on a podium high enough to position it correctly so that you can see the slides Attach and use a mouse on your laptop as your pointer.  I bring an extra 25-50 foot VGA cable extension cord (expensive and hard to find but worth owning) so I am free to place my laptop wherever I care to stand (rather than be tied to where the projector is located). Also, don’t forget a power extension cord as well.

Beware of equipment, software, and power failure, and be prepared
Sometimes when you least expect it the projector will not work (it will break, the bulb will blow, the computer will fail, the room is too bright, etc.). Ensure that you get to your speaking location early enough to do everything possible to set every up perfectly  (I won’t even get into matters like VGA screen size settings or output toggle on/off but be prepared for these gremlins.)

Know more than your slides
You must be armed with supplementary information for your slides. Immerse yourself with timely clippings from newspapers or good quotes. This will help you come off like a professional during the Q&A.
Revised 5/05 Gordy Schiff, MD. Revised 11/09