Patients-not just Images

Devoted to Education and Practice in Patient-centered Radiology

Making a PowerPoint Presentation - Do's and Dont's

Ravi Ramakantan:

This is a longish write up. Most points are those that I have learnt from many years of lecturing. I urge you to be patient and go through the essay in its entirety.


· The object of a lecture is to share information/knowledge.

· The object of a lecture is NOT to make a fancy PowerPoint presentation!

· Concentrate on information – not on fancy slides.

· Speak only on a subject that you know well.

· Do not speak on a subject you do not know well.

· If you have to make a presentation on subject that you do not know well, prepare well in advance - study the subject and understand it well. If you do not know subject well, no matter how hard you prepare; no matter how good your PowerPoint presentation technically is, the presentation will fall flat.

· So – prepare, prepare, prepare

· Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse – especially if you are a first-time speaker.

· Understand for whom you're making a presentation.

· Be aware of the time you are allotted; Do NOT exceed time.

Slides-stuff matters more than style

· Use as few slides as absolutely necessary.

· Use a large enough font

· Use few words in a slide .. typically just 4-5 lines with just as many words in each line.

· Select a dark background

. .Whenever possible avoid using the bottom one third of the slide for text - often these are not visible from the back rows.

· I like to avoid background graphics.

. I do not believe in using unnecessary animations in slides.

· Do not use unrelated fillers

. For all radiology images, the background SHOULD be black. I repeat SHOULD be.

· Every radiology image should be large enough on the slide to be clearly visible to the back of the hall. Do not crowd too many images on a single slide just for your convenience.

. Crop images - remove unwanted garbage

. Remember to preserve aspect ratio (relative size of height to the width of the image): Adjust image size by dragging diagonally - in or out - from the corners.

. Ensure that no patient identifiable details are seen on the slide. or mak sure, you have taken consent from the patient for unedited clinical images to be shown

. All radiology images should be in grayscale - DO NOT USE "Blue" sides taken off cell phone cameras. If you have to , convert them into grayscale before using them in your presentation. Many cellphone cameras have a 'black and white' mode - use it if you use cell phone cameras to capture radiology images - though I strongly advise against such a practice. I suggest all radiology images be taken directly off the digital archives or scanned on professional scanners.

· If you're going to be using movies or cine loops, make sure that you embed them within the slide itself.

· If you are not able to do the above, the cine loop should be in the same folder as the PowerPoint presentation.

· To be absolutely sure, first try this presentation and cine loops on somebody else's computer so that you're sure that it will work in the computer in the lecture hall.

· It is extremely disturbing for the audience and for you too - if cine loops or movies do not work properly during the course of the lecture. Should this happen, do not get flustered – instead , apologise and carry on.

· In short, cine loops can be bothersome and you should use them only when and if absolutely necessary.

· I believe it's easier to carry your presentation on a pen drive rather than take it on a laptop and try to connect it on the stage. But this is not a rule and depending upon how comfortable you are, you could do either. If you're using a pen drive, it's better to take a backup in some way - may be another pen drive or upload the talk on the cloud so in an emergency, you can download it.

. Often, I keep the first slide as a bank slide so that in the few seconds before I actually start the lecture, there is nothing on the screen. Also remember that in the presentation mode in PowerPoint, the alphabet "B" blanks the screen. Pressing this again, brings the screen back to normal mode.



· Before you start making the presentation, make sure that the hall is darkened as much as you'd desire; otherwise the radiology images may not show up properly and your presentation would be futile.

· Position your mouth at an appropriate distance from the mike - not too close- not too far. Ask if everyone can hear you.

· Learn the use of the remote control for changing the slides and the use of the laser pointer - so that you don't goof up juggling with the slides during your presentation. Be 'miserly' in using the laser pointer - remember to switch it off immediately after you are done with the 'pointing'. Do not let the laser light roam around here and there.

· Talk slowly, ‘loudly’ and clearly - making sure that what you're saying is clearly audible to everyone in the hall.

· Talk naturally, do not put on an accent. Remember you're making a scientific presentation and not being a part of a debate.

· At the beginning of the talk, openly acknowledge anyone who has helped you with the presentation and if there are slides that you borrowed from somebody or the Internet or a book -always acknowledge them when the slide is on the screen.

. Do NOT read your slides. The audience knows English and can read it for themselves. When the slide is on, rather than read the contents, summarise the contents in your own words. In such situations, do NOT turn your back to the audience - as far as possible.

. In the audience, invariably there are a few who would be using their cell phone cameras to take pictures of your projected slides. Do not encourage this; tell them firmly - but politely, that this is bad manners and that you do not encourage this. This too is a part of education.

. Be conscious that you should not come in the way of the visibility of the screen and any section of the audience

· It's very important to know which is your last slide. It looks foolish when you move to the next slide and that shows up is a blank slide saying ‘End of PowerPoint presentation’.. This reflects poorly on your preparedness. In short, your last slide should have the last part of your material and at this point you should conclude by saying something like "that concludes my presentation -thank you" et cetera.

· I believe that you should avoid using the last slide as a ’Thank you’ slide – after all, you're going to be saying 'Thank you' and there is no need to show the ‘Thank you’ slide.

· You should know before hand, if you would be expected to answer questions at the end of the talk.

When questions are llowed, often times, the audience will talk without the mike and everyone may not have heard the question. So, it's a good idea for you to repeat the question and then start answering the question. And if there is a question, the answer to which you do not know, be honest – simply say the truth "Sorry, I do not know the answer to this question" rather than play around with half-truths.


· If you have used a pen drive, make sure you collect it on your way out.

· Wherever possible, try to obtain objective feedback on your lecture from those who are likely to tell you the truth. This is a good way to improve future presentations - especially if you're a beginner.