Family & Community Medicine

Tips & Guidelines

Developing & Giving a Medical Presentation

Why are Presentation Skills Important?

  • Provides the best medical care by keeping colleagues knowledgeable in current research and technology
  • Publicizes your findings and research
  • Improves opportunities for further funding and grants
  • Obtains patient referrals

What Are the Qualities of Effective SPeakers?

  • An organized presentation with a clear introduction and conclusion
  • A limited number of clearly defined objectives
  • Effective use of visual aids
  • Controlled use of non-verbal communication including gestures, facial expression and posture
  • Effective use of verbal communication including tone, speed, volume and absence of fillers (e.g., Saying “like,” “uh,” “um”)
  • Ability to keep the audience engaged by using relatable examples and stories to emphasize major points
  • Interest and enthusiasm in the subject
  • Management of audience questions and comments to support the main points of the presentation

Planning Your Talk


Comprises three parts:

  1. Opening remarks to capture audience attention
  2. Thesis during which purpose of the talk is stated
  3. Overview provides the outline of the talk



Depending on your unique topic, the main section of your talk can be granted in a number of ways:

  • Problem/solution
  • Advantages/disadvantages
  • Chronological comparisons/evolution
  • Definition/examples
  • Good news/bad news



Comprises three parts:

  1. Review that summarizes the main points
  2. Plan of action that calls for specific actions to be taken on part of the audience
  3. Closing remarks to conclude your presentation

Verbal Communication

  • Use conversational language that varies in length and structure.
  • Define technical terms even if you think the entire audience should know the term. There may be audience members who are not familiar with your area of research.
  • Speak slowly and carefully.
  • Use pauses appropriately to give the audience a chance to process the information.
  • Speak clearly and alter your tone for emphasis.
  • Allow your voice to demonstrate your enthusiasm for your topic.
  • Avoid fillers such as “uh” or “um.” A pause is an acceptable alternative.
  • Take several deep breaths prior to your presentation to help keep your focus and speak more clearly.

NonVerbal Communication

  • Choose clothing that conveys professionalism and confidence.
  • Approach the podium with confidence and a smile.
  • Smile at the audience and thank them for attending.
  • Do not lose your composure even if something unexpected happens.
  • Stand straight with a comfortable stance and lean forward with your arms uncrossed.
  • Do not walk continuously during the presentation, move with purpose — from one part of the room to the other during topic switches or towards the audience to recapture attention.
  • Avoid repeated motions such as shuffling, hand tapping, fidgeting.
  • Gesture naturally and keep arms at your sides when not gesturing.
  • Keep your hands out of your pockets, this implies lack of confidence or shyness.
  • Make eye contact with as many audience members as possible.
  • Match your expression to what you are saying.

Visual Aids

  • Consider passing out paper handouts. Handouts can go home with the audience and can provide additional detail. However, be aware that handouts can also be distracting.
  • For information about creating PowerPoint presentations, please refer to “Tips for Designing PowerPoint Presentations”.

How to Manage Nervousness

  • Practice in front of a mirror or a friend.
  • Know the material well but don’t have it memorized.
  • Try to relax your body. Use techniques before the presentation to manage your stress including positive visualizations.
  • Control your breathing. If you start to speak too quickly, take a breath and slow down.
  • Find one person in the room who is listening intently and approvingly and imagine you are only speaking to them.
  • Imagine you are talking to a small group of your friends. Try to speak naturally as if you were talking to them.
  • Prepare your notes with larger than normal font and headings that are highlighted. This will enable you to refer quickly back to your notes.

How to Handle Audience Questions

  • Stay calm, keep eye contact with the audience member, then shift focus to entire audience when answering the question.
  • Restate the question for the audience.
  • Respond in a way that supports your presentation’s main points
  • Be aware of emotionally charged or provocative questions. Restate the question in a more neutral manner that aligns with your thesis.
  • Keep track of the time. Tell the audience when there is time for only one more question.
  • Do not ask “Did I answer your question?”
  • Do not say “That is a good question.” This implies the other questions are not.
  • If you do not know the answer, state that you do not know. Explain why you do not know the answer, make a note and promise to find the answer. Then move to the next question.

Additional Resources

  • Standing Ovation: How to Be an Effective Speaker and Communicator, James C. Humes, 1988
  • The Sir Winston Method: The Five Secrets of Speaking the Language of Leadership, James C. Humes, 1991
  • ASAP: The Fastest Way to Create a Memorable Speech, William Mooney and Donald Noone, 1993
  • You’ve Got to Be Believed to Be Heard, Bert Decker, 1992


Joanne Fabick
Administrative Coordinator
Phone: 330.325.6770

Department Chair

John Boltri, M.D.
Phone: 330.325.6787

Department of Family & Community Medicine

College of Medicine at NEOMED