Laser Pointer, A Healthcare Presentation Design Firm, Recommends 5 Questions to Answer Before You Stand and Deliver

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Medical and Dental presentations should be more than a data dump or display of the speaker’s knowledge. Laser Pointer recommends speakers ask themselves five questions before completing their PowerPoint or Keynote slides.

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Analogous Images Help Learner Retention

The audience will check out if they read what the speaker is saying.

Laser Pointer, a healthcare presentation design firm works with clients to answer the “why” of the presentation. What needs does the audience have that must be met? Are there particular barriers to practice improvement that should be addressed?

ACCME and other healthcare accrediting bodies require that learners demonstrate changes in their practice and behavior in delivering patient care. As such, the old formula of repeating the current gold standard, detailing the research and revealing the new treatment modalities are just not sufficient for today’s audiences.

Here are five questions that can be used to determine which content and design approach to use:

1.    Knowledge: Do learners lack the proper information to complete a task?

Medical and Dental care is changing at a breathtaking pace. This leaves practitioners struggling to sort through all the noise to find the essential data that addresses their patients’ needs. A good speaker will help the audience by summarizing the relevant studies and directing them to those that are particularly useful. Slide design should be clean, easy to absorb and memorable.

2.    Skill: Do they have all of the right information but lack the ability to translate that knowledge into action that could be applied to a given situation?

Didactic presentations and text heavy slides are terrible mediums for teaching new skills. Laser Pointer recommends posing “what if” case-based questions throughout the presentation to help the audience overcome typical challenges they face in their practice. Use an Elmo to project any products that are technique sensitive or use as many images as possible.

3.    Confidence: Are they able to demonstrate or apply the skill, but do they hesitate or refuse to apply it?

Healthcare speakers are most often on the “early adopter” side of the bell curve and must recognize that their peers have a variety of reasons for resisting change. Quite often it is simply a matter of waiting for enough data or overcoming fear of trying something new on a patient. A powerful strategy for speakers is to describe their own journey and admit to their own initial concerns. By making themselves vulnerable in this way, the audience ends up saying, “if he/she can do that, perhaps I can too.” Include as many before and after images as possible, including those that were from the first cases done with the new procedure.

4.    Motivation: Are they able to demonstrate or apply the skill confidently but just don’t want to do it?

Everyone has heard that person who says, “it’s worked fine for me all these years, why should I change now?” This may be one of the most delicate tasks for a speaker to overcome. Scare tactics should never be employed unless there is documented proof of bad outcomes. Rather, careful use of leading questions such as “what if you could improve outcomes by x% or reduce complications by y%.” Laser Pointer carefully selects inspirational images to reinforce those messages for their clients’ presentations.

5.    Access: Do they have all of the above but lack the proper tools or resources to complete a task?

One of the best gifts a speaker can give their audience is the benefit of their experience. This often includes specific systems or products that they have successfully employed in their own practice. While ACCME prohibits product promotion, a speaker is still allowed to share their own experience with unrelated products in a fair and balanced way. Analogous images work well such as “using the right tool for the job”.

After investing the time to craft, edit and rehearse the presentation, some speakers fail to truly connect with the audience. This happens when they have written their speaking points on the slides. People skim the slides and then check out!

Which leads to a bonus question:

6.    Connection: Are they engaged in the learning process and actively seeking to find ways to integrate the new information or skill in their practice?

The best slide deck does NOT stand alone, it requires the speaker to deliver it! Laser Pointer recommends each slide contain no more than 4-7 words (not including references). This forces the audience to listen to the speaker. Images should be selected that have direct or analogous meaning so that the brain associates the memorable image with the information. Studies have shown that these two strategies reinforce longer-term memory for learners.

Laser Pointer is a presentation design firm dedicated to helping clinical speakers take their presentations from good to great to profound. For more information or to schedule a free consultation on slide design or content coaching, please go to or contact Margy Schaller at 619-994-0293.

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Margy Schaller
Laser Pointer
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since: 10/2013
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