Challenging the status quo of scientific presentations

Paediatr Anaesth. 2021 Feb;31(2):116-122. doi: 10.1111/pan.14064. Epub 2020 Nov 20.


Scientific presentations, usually given with slide presentation software such as PowerPoint™, are the most common method for disseminating knowledge to students and peers. Unfortunately, many are boring, text-heavy, and bullet point-riddled data dumps, with animations or cartoons that obscure or distract rather than clarify the message. These presentations, which we have all sat through and/or delivered, are often so dull that they are referred to as "death by PowerPoint™." In this paper, the authors intend to impart basic techniques for organizing and communicating information in the most effective, engaging, and actionable ways possible. We focus on three processes: generating ideas and outlining a talk, creating visually appealing uncluttered slides, and delivering an inspiring, practice-changing presentation. We also discuss considerations for a virtual presentation. We believe that even experienced speakers could benefit from reflecting on these recommendations and editing their slide presentations for clarity and simplicity.

Keywords: PowerPoint™; lectures; presentation skills; scientific presentations; slide show; video conference; visual display design.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Software*