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Tips for Oral Presentations

Written by Ed Bell

This tool was developed by Dr. Ed Bell, Professor of Pharmacy Practice at Drake University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, to assist students in preparation for an oral presentation during an externship.

  1. Wording - Use minimal wording on visual aids - PowerPoint slides or overhead transparencies...each slide should have only the major points, and the speaker should verbalize these points...you don't want the audience reading your slide
  2. Studies - When discussing studies, briefly describe how the study was done and list the reference on the slide
  3. Remember the saying: “Tell the audience what you are going to tell them, tell them, and tell them what you just told them”....translation – introduce the topic and what you will discuss, and summarize the main points at the conclusion
  4. Don’t read to the audience – the audience would rather hear a conversational tone than reading
  5. Graphs and Tables – explain tables and graphs to the audience – what is on the columns, axis, and what the point of the table or graph is
  6. Simplify your points and give data (eg, studies, etc) to support these points
  7. Practice, practice, practice – this will help reduce nervousness...practice giving the presentation “live” at least once in front of others
  8. Don’t hesitate to make specific recommendations
  9. Don’t give a lot of background material (pathophysiology, disease epidemiology) – just enough (usually 1-2 slides is enough) to introduce the topic 
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