How to Give a Scientific Talk

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Brian Schwartz, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor
UCSF Infectious Disease

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How to Give a Scientific Talk

  1. 1. How to Give an Effective Medical Talk Brian S. Schwartz, MD Division of Infectious Diseases University of California, San Francisco
  2. 2. <ul><li>Thanks to Quinny Cheng for sharing some of his slides </li></ul>
  3. 3. Scenario <ul><li>Kate is an internal medicine intern and was asked to give noon conference on a topic of her choice related to any patient she cared for in the last month. </li></ul><ul><li>She is allowed 50 minutes. </li></ul><ul><li>She is not sure what topic to pick. </li></ul>
  4. 4. What is the most important thing to think about when choosing a lecture topic?
  5. 5. What is the most important thing to think about when choosing a lecture topic? <ul><li>Audience </li></ul><ul><li>Your interests </li></ul>
  6. 6. Your audience <ul><li>Their interests? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Clinical vs. basic science </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Academic vs. community </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Their education level? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Trainee vs. faculty </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>General practitioner vs. specialist </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Our scenario <ul><li>The lecture will be given to internal medicine clinical ward teams… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>MS3 and MS4 (10) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interns (14) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Residents (25) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Nurse Practitioners (2) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Int. medicine faculty - researchers and clinicians (6) </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Important things to think about with a mixed audience <ul><li>Background slides – how much? </li></ul><ul><li>Abbreviations </li></ul><ul><li>Clinical vs. basic science </li></ul>
  9. 9. Kate picked a case… <ul><li>54 year-old male who died from penicillin-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae meningitis </li></ul>
  10. 10. Which lecture would be best for this audience? <ul><li>“ Central nervous system infections – meningitis, encephalitis, brain abscess” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Update in diagnosis and treatment of bacterial meningitis” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Corticosteroids for the treatment of bacterial meningitis – show me the data” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Neutrophil chemotaxis to the CSF and immunity to Strep. pneumoniae .” </li></ul>
  11. 11. Now you have a topic – determine learning objectives? <ul><li>Learning objectives = the 3-5 pieces of information that you want the audience to remember from your talk </li></ul>
  12. 12. Presenting the Learning Objectives <ul><li>Identify your objectives up front </li></ul><ul><li>Organize talk around your objectives </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Different teaching objective in each section </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cases that illustrate objectives </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Reiterate objectives in the conclusion </li></ul>
  13. 13. Kate’s learning objectives <ul><li>Head CT should be preformed before LP in patients with seizure, altered mental status, or focal neurological findings ( diagnosis ) </li></ul><ul><li>Empiric antibiotic therapy should be determined by patient’s age and immune status ( treatment ) </li></ul><ul><li>Corticosteroids to be effective, need to be given with or before antibiotics ( treatment ) </li></ul><ul><li>Immunizations reduce rates of infection for S. pneumoniae, N. meningitidis, and H. influenzae (prevention) </li></ul>
  14. 14. How should you organize the talk? <ul><li>Organizational Roadmap: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Promotes rapid data-sorting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Keeps audience from getting lost </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Anticipates and preempts questions </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. The Organizational Roadmap <ul><li>Tell them where they will be going </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Introduction slide with outline </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Tell them where they are </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Refer back to the outline </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Tell them where they have been </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Summary slide with learning points </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Kate’s roadmap <ul><li>I. Epidemiology of bacterial meningitis in the U.S. </li></ul><ul><li>II. Diagnosis of bacterial meningitis </li></ul><ul><li>III. Management of bacterial meningitis </li></ul><ul><li>IV. Prevention of bacterial meningitis </li></ul>
  17. 17. Refer Back to the Outline <ul><li>I. Epidemiology of bacterial meningitis in the U.S. </li></ul><ul><li>II. Diagnosis of bacterial meningitis </li></ul><ul><li>III. Management of bacterial meningitis </li></ul><ul><li>IV. Prevention of bacterial meningitis </li></ul>
  18. 18. Now the details that make it all work… <ul><li>Capture their attention </li></ul><ul><li>Keep it simple </li></ul><ul><li>Make it look good </li></ul><ul><li>Keep within time limit and leave time for questions! </li></ul>
  19. 19. Capture Attention <ul><li>Make the topic interesting: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cases </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Anecdotes & Stories </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Relevance to practice </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Make it Clear & Simple <ul><li>Clarifying & Simplifying Data: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Avoid information overload </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How to present data with charts </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Limit Content on Each Slide <ul><li>Rule of Sevens: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>7 lines per slide </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>7 words per line (about 40 characters) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>7 rows per table (or less) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Other Limits: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>4 columns per table </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>4 lines per graph </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Presenting Numbers <ul><li>Less is more: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Simplify tables -- eliminate extraneous data </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Round off decimals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Present the conclusion before the data </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Charts usually better than tables </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. Presenting Graphs <ul><li>Simplify, simplify, simplify: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Replace a complex graph with 2 simple ones </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Clarify the message: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Title, legend, labels </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Take time to explain the graph </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Talk about ideas -- not numbers </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Data in a Scanned Table
  25. 25. Same Data in Simplified Table <ul><li>Mortality & Neurologic Outcome at 6 months: </li></ul><ul><li> Normothermia Hypothermia Risk Ratio </li></ul><ul><li>Death 55% 41% 0.7* </li></ul><ul><li>Good Neurologic 39% 55% 1.4* </li></ul><ul><li>Outcome </li></ul><ul><li> * P < .05 </li></ul>
  26. 26. Same Data Presented as a Graph Mortality & Neurologic Outcome at 6 months:
  27. 27. Make it look good <ul><li>Looking Sharp: A Guide to Style </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Slide show aesthetics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conceptual images </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Speaking tips </li></ul></ul>
  28. 28. Slide Show Aesthetics <ul><li>Maximize readability & comprehension </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid distraction </li></ul><ul><li>Be creative -- but have a goal </li></ul>
  29. 29. Choosing a Background <ul><li>Background color: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dark shades of blue, red, or green </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Plain black doesn‘t work as well </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>White or light backgrounds can cause eye strain </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Simple accents: color gradients, horizontal lines, subdued graphics </li></ul></ul>
  30. 30. Choosing a Background <ul><li>Background color: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dark shades of blue, red, or green </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Plain black doesn‘t work as well </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>White or light backgrounds can cause eye strain </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Simple accents: color gradients, horizontal lines, subdued graphics </li></ul></ul>
  31. 31. Formatting Text <ul><li>Color: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Aim for high contrast (white or yellow on blue background works well) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Low color contrast is hard to read </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Color can emphasize important points </li></ul></ul>
  32. 32. Formatting Text <ul><li>Fonts & Size </li></ul><ul><li>Bigger is better (24 point minimum) </li></ul><ul><li>TEXT PRINTED ENTIRELY IN CAPITAL LETTERS IS DIFFICULT TO READ </li></ul><ul><li>Try to stick with one font style only </li></ul>
  33. 33. Avoid Glitz <ul><li>Avoid the Temptation of Glitz: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>PowerPoint lets you create very fancy backgrounds </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Glitzy background distract from the real content of your slides </li></ul></ul>
  34. 34. Clarify Slides <ul><li>Make each slide easy to follow: </li></ul><ul><li>Title each slide </li></ul><ul><li>Clarify the information hierarchy by using: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bullets </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Font size </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Phrases, not sentences </li></ul>
  35. 35. Conceptual Images <ul><li>Purpose of Conceptual Images: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Break up monotony & add humor </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Visually emphasize or clarify concepts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Create themes and continuity </li></ul></ul>
  36. 36. Break-up Monotony Clinical exam findings in meningococcemia
  37. 37. Explain figures, slowly and thoroughly Clinical exam findings in meningitis
  38. 38. Speaking Tips <ul><li>Before the talk: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Practice! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Solicit feedback </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Try memorizing opening and closing lines </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bring a watch </li></ul></ul>
  39. 39. Speaking Tips <ul><li>During the talk: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Engage the audience (smile, eye contact, gesture) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Talk -- don ’t read </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Avoid fidgeting, pacing, “ummm.” “well,” and “so” </li></ul></ul>
  40. 40. The PACCTR symposium (research festival) <ul><li>Audience: academic community </li></ul><ul><li>10 minute talk </li></ul><ul><li>Enough background to frame your questions </li></ul><ul><li>Why is question important / interesting? </li></ul><ul><li>Consider stating research question explicitly </li></ul><ul><li>Summarize briefly with key conclusions </li></ul>
  41. 41. How to Give a Great Medical Talk <ul><li>Know the audience: choose relevant content & learning points </li></ul><ul><li>Guide the audience: the organizational roadmap </li></ul><ul><li>Keep it simple, stupid: avoid information overload </li></ul><ul><li>Create functional slides: readable & creative </li></ul><ul><li>Act confident & have fun: you are the expert! </li></ul>

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