Jannis Delaan - October 23, 2019

Having to give a presentation can be a nerve wrecking task. It may not be your favourite part of being a doctor, but you can be sure you will be continuously asked to take the stage during you career.


Here are insights that will help you get your message across like a pro and give you more confidence while you are in the spotlights. 



Different approach

Presenting anything is telling a story so instead of thinking you need to present slides, rather think of the slides as a way to keep track of how you share your experiences while you engage your audience. 

Changing your mindset on the way you built your slide deck, is a great start. 


Start with your key messages and built up your story from there. Always keep in mind that your slides are not used to inform the audience, they’re there to help you get your message across to an engaged audience. 

Adding one liners, key points or an image on a slide, will support your story and makes it easier for you to remember what you wanted to say when you’re up on a podium. Your slides should function as a visual guide more than anything else.


The floor is yours

Stand up, never sit down when presenting to an audience even if there’s only a handful of people listening.

When standing in front of a larger crowd try not to hide behind a lectern or a desk, no matter how tempted you may be. 

Move around a bit, try not to stay glued in one place. After all, the floor is yours, might as well take it.


Most presenters use slides on a computer that are projected for the audience to see. 

Take position in such a way that your computer screen is between you and your audience. The audience will look past you if they wish to see the projection of your slides.

Positioning yourself like this will keep you facing you audience even when you peek at your computer screen.


Worst case scenario: the microphone is firmly attached to the lectern forcing you in one position most likely on the side of the screen.

In this set up, you’ll find that the microphone is often flexible, if not detachable. You can always try to bend it so you can at least stand in front or next to it.

When that isn’t an option and you’re stuck behind a lectern, make sure you use your hands for extra big gestures and utilise the power of intonation to stay as dynamic as possible.


Important: Never turn your back to your audience while talking. If you must look or point at the projected screen, move your head, but keep your body positioned at least side ways to the audience.

Hand Job

Stand up straight, pull your shoulders down. Relax, you got this, but do keep your hands out of your pockets. Your hands are your perfect companions when it comes to presenting and you should use them. Humans generally use their hands during any verbal communication. Even when the other person can’t actually see you because you are on the phone you are often still using your hands. When presenting use your hands as naturally as you would when talking face to face to a friend. 


Worst case scenario: you’re a bit nervous and your fidgeting…..with your pointer!


If you discover that you are fidgeting with the presenter during your presentation, you need to change behaviour on the spot. Since that is next to impossible, put down that pointer and grab a pen or a USB stick instead. Needless to say, fidgeting with your pointer can mess up your presentation completely.


Important: Where others may suggest to simply unlearn fidgeting when you’re nervous, this can be very hard to execute. Instead make full use of your motivation to keep your hands busy, use them to amplify what you are saying. 

For example, you can amplify your talk about suturing by mimicking the movements with your hands. In fact, you can mimic a lot of what you speak about with more than just your hands, use your whole body when you can.

Mimicking actions will not only liven up your presentation and keep it visually interesting, it’s guaranteed to stop you from fidgeting.



Content overload

Presenting the outcome of research is often restricted to talking about numbers. It’s not a secret that these presentations often lead to a large amount of information on a slide.

Any slide with a vast amount of words or data is overwhelming for the attendees and can lead to a few unwanted results; 

it can immediately signal ‘we’re gonna be in here for a long and boring time’ and your audience will try to find better things to do. If someone is actually trying to read that tiny font, you’ll also loose their attention and you’ll notice people will start talking to each other about their discoveries.


Worst case scenario: You wanted to talk about something on your overloaded slide and you can’t find where it is anymore. This will be the point where you loose a lot of attention and most likely the last bit of interest in what you are saying.


Important: highlight the things you want to discuss or better yet, draw attention to important findings you wish to cover in advance by zooming out the specifics and placing it on a slide of its own.

To play it safe, stick to the rule of using font sizes 30pt and larger with only a few points to avoid any dreaded Death by Powerpoint.



Slide etiquettes

Even though it may seem that anyone can create a presentation many individuals fall into the same Powerpoint traps. Here are some rules that ought to be sent out to every presenter upon inviting them;

Pay attention to your design using easy to read Sans Serif fonts like Helvetica, Arial, and Verdana or go for slightly more decor with Serif fonts like Georgia, Times New Roman or Garamond. (Serif stands for the little lines to decorate a font, the French word Sans means without, red.) 

Use a light background and a dark coloured font or vice versa to keep a pleasantly readable contrast. Expressing your colourful personality isn’t a great idea when it comes to written text.

Make sure you align the different blocks on your slides throughout the entire deck to further professionalise your deck and to make sure your slides don’t ‘jump’. Any available presentation program is fitted with basic tools to easily align your content.


Use images only when they add to your story and limit them to one image per slide. When you are presenting relatively abstract topics like research outcome, illustrative images can be an asset to getting your point across. This is great way to combat sleepiness for your listeners as well.

Note: People in your audience can make pictures of your slides and they may share them on social media. It is wise to keep in mind that you are liable when it comes to copyright infringements and privacy breaches when you are using images.


Even though Powerpoint has built in functions to pimp your slide deck with swooshing in text, bouncing in images or flashy slide transitions, refrain from using them. Unless you are a slide designer, leave those functions in the nineties. They aren’t entertaining and do nothing for you or your story.


Again, the slide deck is not the main part of your presentation, your story is. 

Presentation techniques all doctors should know

Take away
Whatever you do, always remember presenting is not writing down everything you need to say and then reading it out loud in front of a live audience. Publish a book and then organise a live reading session if you feel this urge, but don't use a slide deck for it. Really, it's the worst thing to sit in on.




Need help crafting your story? 

Want coaching to help you impress a room? 

Wish to learn how to engage any audience?

Go to and get the support you deserve.


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