Pointing Out Your Power: Practical Tips for PowerPoint Slide and Presentation Design

Jonathan R Salik MD1, Hayley Bartkus BS1,  Rodolfo Villarreal-Calderon, MD2; Katelyn Bird MD3, Kyle Schoppel MD4, Howard Lanney, MD, MSt4, and Jeffrey Markuns, MD, EdM4
1Graduate Medical Sciences, and Departments of 2Medicine, 3Neurology, 4Pediatrics and 5Family Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine

Have you ever left a medical lecture feeling frustrated by a confusing or dense PowerPoint presentation? Have you ever struggled to stay engaged, especially when attending lectures over Zoom?

PowerPoint presentations have become integral to medical education. Yet all too often, these presentations are plagued by poorly constructed slides that lack interactivity and dynamism. Learning to create an impactful and visually appealing PowerPoint presentation is thus a fundamental skill for all healthcare professionals and medical educators.

Founded on the principles of cognitive load theory, this workshop will provide participants with a selection of evidence-based strategies for delivering an engaging and effective PowerPoint presentation with a particular focus on how to tailor PowerPoint presentations to the virtual learning environment. In addition, participants will have the opportunity to hone these skills through an interactive group activity in which they will work together to improve slides from their own PowerPoint presentations using the techniques acquired in this session. In this manner, participants will leave the workshop equipped with a practical skill set that will be readily implementable in their current practice setting.

Target Audience:

All involved in creating or delivering PowerPoint presentations, particularly faculty and trainees.

Learning Objectives:

At the completion of this workshop, participants will be able to:

(a) Design an effective introduction to serve as a “hook” for the audience

(b) Recognize the utility of the “progressive reveal” technique in leading the audience through a slide’s content

(c) Design an effective scaffolding for a PowerPoint presentation through the use of learning objectives and outline slides

(d) Apply basics of cognitive load theory to the visual appearance of a PowerPoint slide

(e) Edit slides in order to reduce text burden and engage the audience

(f) Diagnose the learner based on individual requirements to better accommodate his/her learning needs

(g) Design evidence-based “brain breaks” to engage the audience

(h) Incorporate audience response technology for in-person and virtual presentations to add interactivity to PowerPoint presentations