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Suggestions for Improving the Effectiveness of Oral Presentations
  1. Norman M. Kaplan
  1. From the Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Dallas, Tex.
  1. Address correspondence to: Norman M. Kaplan, M.D., Clinical Professor of Internal Medicine, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, 5323 Harry Hines Blvd., CS8.410, Dallas, TX 75390-8899. Email: norman.kaplan{at}

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Oral presentations continue to be the most popular form of direct communication of medical facts and opinions. During the past 40 years, I have listened to thousands of lectures and delivered quite a few myself. Despite improvements with the increased use of Microsoft PowerPoint software, persistent problems reduce the effectiveness of many presentations. A number of specific recommendations are provided in this article to improve the effectiveness of oral presentations. The recommendations are mainly for 30- to 60-minute lectures but also apply to 10-minute research presentations.


If you have voluntarily agreed to present a talk, never start by apologizing that you are not particularly knowledgeable about the subject. The best way to turn off your audience is to start with, “Although I'm not working in this area and therefore am not particularly expert about this topic, …”. If that is true, don't agree to talk about the subject. Otherwise, assume that you likely know more than your audience does about your topic. …

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