In medical academia, the grand rounds presentation is a prestigious opportunity to showcase your expertise. Whether you are a dedicated resident, a seasoned fellow, or an honored guest lecturer, your presentation should be a testament to your expertise. If you’re just endlessly copying and pasting patient photos or slice data, your presentation just won’t reach its full potential. Here’s a guide to take your grand rounds presentation to the next level!
Start by considering your audience. Are you speaking to a room full of cardiologists or to an oncology department composed of multiple disciplines? While it’s vital to your presentation to pick a topic that captivates you, it’s equally important to choose one that resonates with your audience.
Next, focus on selecting your presentation topic. What are the most recent developments, trends, and debates within your field? Have you conducted research that pertains to your audience?
Avoid choosing a broad topic that could prevent your message from effectively hitting home. If your talk is on diabetes and pregnancy, for example, addressing diagnosis, pathophysiology, treatment, and follow up is virtually impossible within the time frame of a grand round presentation. It might be in your best interest to zoom in on one of these aspects, rather than cramming all of them into the 30-45 minute talk, which will just leave your audience with information-overload, instead of your message. Whatever your chosen topic is, it should act like a magnet for your audience’s attention.
Strong, evidence-based content will be the foundation of your presentation, so cast a wide net when gathering research materials. Use textbooks, peer-reviewed journals, and other treasure troves of information like PubMed and GoogleScholar.
Look for historical evidence with recent research that highlights how your findings fit into the evolving medical landscape and, if applicable, push the boundaries of current standards of care. Citing more recent research will build your credibility, keep your presentation relevant to current best practices, and more thoroughly engage your audience.
Patients are multidimensional–that is, not just the angle of the photo representing the condition being studied–and your analysis should reflect that complexity. For example, if your topic involves surgical procedures requiring bony and soft tissue changes, such as facial feminization, you should consider using a tool that allows you to grab screenshots or screen record 3D data to most effectively show patients’ results.
An outline acts as the architectural blueprint for your presentation and ensures that your content flows logically and seamlessly. You probably learned how to create one in middle school, but in case you need a refresher or if you never felt they were beneficial to your process, check out these resources:
Begin with a captivating introduction to set the stage for what’s to come. You want to hook your audience with a bold idea or question that gives them a reason to listen.
Then, define your key learning objectives based on your research. Think of these objectives as the building blocks to build your presentation. Each section of your presentation should build upon the last (For example, you don’t want to jump to treatment plans before you’ve even diagnosed your patient). Each point should be clear, concise, and contribute to the larger narrative.
Once you’ve addressed your key objectives, it’s time to round out your presentation with evidence and data.
Important: Mark out time to recap your main points, both as you present and at the end of your presentation. This is a crucial part of your presentation - do not skip it! Yes, you only have a limited time to present your case, but if you want your audience to leave with your key objectives in mind, repetition is important.
You’ll also want to allocate time to audience questions. One major mistake made by presenters is only providing 5 minutes for questions–but how can you develop a genuine conversation by allowing time for one to two questions from the audience? It’s up to you to decide how much time you’d like to spend on questions and audience engagement, but we suggest between 5 to 10 minutes.
Now that you have a completed outline, it’s time to write your script. This may seem like you’re repeating your outline, but writing the script to your presentation will further organize your presentation and maintain your workflow. If you skip this step, you may end up getting lost in your slides and losing track of your key objectives. Remember, the more focused your presentation, the more focused your audience.
Engagement starts long before you step up to the podium. Seek feedback from seasoned attendings, experienced fellows, and your peers. Encourage them to ask questions, even to challenge your findings. This feedback loop helps you refine your content and anticipate potential areas of interest or contention. It's a proactive strategy that ensures you're well-prepared to engage your audience effectively.
Once you’ve honed your topic, it’s time to define your learning objectives, which will act as a framework for both your research and your audience’s comprehension. Think of your key objectives as building blocks to build your presentation. Be clear, concise and contribute to the larger narrative.
Gone are the days of text-heavy slides and bullet-point monotony. We’re well into the age of visual communication and short attention spans, so visual storytelling is the only option. Utilize relevant infographics, charts, diagrams, and high-resolution images. Be intentional! You have limited time to present a lot of information, so every piece of your presentation should speak to the overall narrative.
An old video, but a timely message: just because it’s on your slide, doesn’t mean it’s relevant to your presentation.
Remember to keep your design minimal. There are plenty of sites that can help with slide design, but don’t get too carried away.
Every slide should have a purpose. As you are creating your slides, ask yourself “Does this support one of my key objectives?” A resounding yes should be your answer for every slide, except for the first and last slides (aka your title and questions slides). If the answer happens to be no, consider reframing it or taking it out completely.
That being said, you do want to incorporate slides that allow you to catch your breath or re-engage the audience. If you find yourself with many data-heavy slides in a row, create a “Breath” slide that has a single quote or a callout of key information from the previous slide that reinforces your findings. This type of slide should give you a moment to slow down and relax before moving on.
Tap into your inner graphic designer and draw inspiration:
Past grand rounds presentations - the best way to find inspiration for your talk is to look at past presentations. Luckily, there are plenty posted to the internet. We recommend searching for presentations in your discipline on youtube, but if you’d like some other examples, check out these from John Hopkins Infectious Diseases and University of Rochester Medical Center.
Understanding the distinction between slides and handouts is vital. Your slides should be carefully designed to convey your message effectively–they should take your audience on a medical journey. Meanwhile, your handouts (if you have them) should highlight your key objectives and outline your takeaway message. It should be well-organized, visually appealing, and serve as a reference point or your audience long after the presentation is over. It should not be a print out of your slides.
The difference between a forgettable talk and a transformative one lies in your presentation approach. Your main goal is not to present information; it is to ensure the audience leaves with a new valuable skill or piece of knowledge.
One of the most important ways to create a memorable presentation is audience interaction. Luckily, there are many, many ways to incorporate your audience into the conversation. For example, incorporating Q&A sessions, polls, trivia quizzes, or small group activities are great ways to get the audience involved and have a richer, more meaningful experience.
Encourage participants to discuss their thoughts, questions, and experiences. If you are worried that no one will ask questions during a Q&A session or won’t answer questions you ask, consider using backchannels, like Mentimeter or Slido, so any anxious audience members can text in questions anonymously.
Another way to engage involves offering small prizes (like pieces of candy, for example) for insightful responses. Small prizes usually beget big engagement. Not only does this option incentivize participation, but also elevates the energy in the room. For example, you have decided to add a 5 question trivia quiz at the end of your presentation as a way to recap your key takeaways. The winner receives a small prize. Instead of asking questions into the void, you will facilitate friendly competition and conversation and you’ll reinforce your key takeaways. Keep in mind, though, physical prize only works for physical talks. While quizzes and other engagement strategies still benefit remote or hybrid presentations, you may have to get a little more creative.
Refining your presentation is just as important as creating an outline or writing your script.Seek feedback from multiple sources, including attendings, fellows, and your peers for a fresh perspective. Ask them to ask questions as if they were in the audience. Not only will this prepare you for the question and answer portion of your presentation, but it also highlights areas that may need further clarification.
When presenting a study or research based on soft tissue changes, consider using 3D scanning and an application that lets you gather screenshots of what has been achieved for a patient in a way that is easy to understand. The 3D data provides greater context to the full scope of care and the effectiveness of planned or actual changes. You may also want to plan for creating 3D scans at each step of the study or research, including asking patients to take additional scans from home that can be shared directly with you.
Incorporating a DICOM Viewer into your presentation adds a layer of depth. It provides an immersive experience, allowing your audience to explore patient data in detail. This context not only enriches your analysis but also demonstrates the comprehensive nature of your care. Consider postoperative scans as well to show the long-term impact of your interventions.
Confidence is contagious. The more confident you appear, the more your audience will believe in and trust your analysis. Enhanced visuals, comprehensive research, and meticulous preparation all contribute to this confidence. They provide you with a solid foundation from which to present your findings with authority.
"There are always three speeches for every one you actually gave. The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave." Dave Carnegie
Remember, grand rounds presentations are not just about sharing information. They are meant to equip your audience with new skills that they can apply to their own practice. By diving into each aspect of this guide, you're not just preparing a presentation; you're crafting an unforgettable experience for your audience. Mastery of grand rounds presentations requires dedication, creativity, and a commitment to delivering knowledge that leaves a lasting impact on the medical community.