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How To Make a Good 30-minute Presentation 

by Francine R. Gaillour, MD, MBA, FACPE

Many of you are often called on to present at healthcare meetings and events.  For some of you, speaking is "old hat" and for others, it is a new, exciting, and often daunting challenge.  But even if you are comfortable with speaking, I suggest you reject what we in healthcare have deemed to be "acceptable" or "normal."  

To see what I mean, just take a look at the physicians doing "grand rounds" type of presentations on your local Cable TV channel.  You will notice "experts" who are wandering with their content, looking down at their computer monitor instead of at the audience, speaking in a monotone, and over-relying on PowerPoint.

To help you refine your presentation skills, here is short tutorial on how to make a good 30-minute presentation:

Content Management:

The mind loves "the power of three."  No matter how much content you have, aim for "3 segments" and  "3 points."  

The three segments are: 1) Your Opener, 2) the Body of your presentation, and 3) Your Conclusion:

  1. The Opener should be no more than 2 minutes and have a "hook" which is the "why should anyone care." The opener contains the objectives and the benefits of your speech for the audience. 

  2. The Body of the presentation will be about 12 to 17 minutes and is where you will make your "3 points."  Each point should stated, and each should be supported with either data or a "story" (example, illustration or case study)

  3. The Conclusion of the presentation should include a reminder of what the 3 points were, the benefits stated earlier, plus a CALL TO ACTION.  The call to action is what you want them to do next; e.g. a request to make a behavior change, to reflect on the topic presented, or to apply the topics to their own life.  

Platform Management:

Managing the "up in front" part of a presentation means creating an environment that enhances the audience's experience.  Essential components of a supportive environment are:

  1. Starting and ending on time

  2. Making sure the AV works (at least one hour before)

  3. Lighting that is appropriate -- not necessarily dimmed!

  4. Seating arrangement that is comfortable for the audience

  5. A minimum number of PowerPoint slides, with a minimum number of bullets, and a maximum size of font or graphics.

Personal Management:

Although much has been written and can be learned about professional speaking, for most of the presentations that we give on a day-to-day or week-to week basis, follow these 3 principles and you will hit the mark:

  1. Look at the audience directly in the eye, and look at them much more often than you look at your notes or laptop

  2. Speak much louder and take much longer pauses than think you should

  3. Thoroughly enjoy the material; if you are jazzed about the content, the audience will be rooting for you.  

Francine R. Gaillour, MD, MBA, FACPE is an executive coach and business consultant.  She is president of The Gaillour Group and director  of Creative Strategies in Physician Leadership.  Dr. Gaillour is a professional speaker on healthcare leadership, technology and cultural change.  

She can be reached at (888) 562-7289 or francine@physicianleadership.com


Francine R. Gaillour, MD, MBA, FACPE
15600 NE 8th Street, Suite B1-173
Bellevue, WA  98008
(206) 686-4205

Francine R. Gaillour, MD   2006 Ki Health, Inc.