One of the greatest fears that people have is that of public speaking. (Maybe that is why the oral board examination is so daunting; it’s really a small-scale oral presentation with some interspersed dialogue.) Whether your future is in private practice or in academia, many of you will present your work in the public domain. No matter how small or large the audience, adhering to a few “do’s” and avoiding important “don’ts” will make you a more effective speaker. These are things I wish someone had told me before my first few presentations—I pass my pain along to you as pearls.
1. Do not read directly off your slides. Reading directly line-for-line from your slides will encourage the audience to stop listening to you and start reading your slides; they can read a lot faster than you can talk. Your slides act as memory cues and as visual aids for your oral presentation.
2. Use a dark background and light font for your Powerpoint slides. Do NOT use light yellow or red font; they do not project well. It is very disconcerting when you peek over at the screen and notice that none of your highlighted text is actually visible.
3. Never go over the allotted time. No one will fault you for being a little short, but the moderator may get annoyed if you go over.
4. Make images as big as possible, especially if findings are subtle. Increase contrast and brightness as images tend to lose contrast and look darker when projected.
5. Practice your talk until you know it “cold.” Mastery of the material will breed confidence and help minimize any nervousness.
Editor’s Note: If you like this blog entry, you may also be interested in the outstanding Radiographics articles by Janni Collins devoted to Making and Giving effective Powerpoint presentations.