Field Epidemiology Manual Wiki

Aide memoire for oral presentations and visual aids

Last modified at 3/15/2018 9:16 AM by Vladimir Prikazsky

Words of advice

1. Identify a single overriding communication objective (SOCO) adapted to your


2. Develop a storyboard: Start with the conclusion slide matched to the objectives, derive a recommendation slide on its basis and then prepare results, methods and introduction.

3. Prepare visual aids with large fonts without “serifs”, good contrast and no more then seven lines per slide.

4. Present digital information in tables and display analogical information on graphs. Add only the maps, pictures and graphics that serve the SOCO.

5. Write a script with full sentences that take slide bullet points as starting point. Push excessive information to the script and the Q&A session.

6. List potential questions and prepare answers.

7. Rehearse over and over again with feedback from a public, and check timing.

Evaluation checklist

Summarized content

Content targeted to audience

Key concepts emphasized

Details left aside

Focus on a clear SOCO

One verb / objective

Parallel objectives / conclusions

Limitations slide

Data supporting the conclusions

Evidence-based recommendations

Sequential slides

Efficient story telling

1 to 1.5 slide per minute

Effective visual supports

Font size >20, =< 7 bullets

Sufficient contrast, wise colours

Informative, time, place person titles

One graph / table / list per slide

Non-sentence bullets

No lonely bullets

Parallel construction syntax

Time sequence, time tags

Graphs centred around one idea

Optimized ink-to-data ratio

No mix of digital / analogical info

Standard tables with < 10 rows

Numbers right-aligned, 1,000 dividers

Rounding up

No unnecessary graphic elements

Map for geographical information

ECDC Guidelines for presentation of surveillance data

Harmonious delivery

Good flow, not too fast, not too slow

Understandable language

Humble, social, respectful presenter

Speech related to visual aids

Speech adding to the slides

Descriptions preceding analyses

Time slot respected to the second

Answers to questions

Floor handed over to the moderator

Questions noted

Constructive, open mind

Question points answered

Brief answers

Conflict avoidance / resolution


DO research your audience, who they are, what they like and what they do.

DO prepare your talk like a story-telling exercise where problems get framed and solved.

DO ensure the talk unfolds sequentially with ideas following each other naturally.

DO aim at keeping the attention of the audience at all times.

DO boil down the study to its core elements.

DO think of slides as self-sufficient vectors of information that stand out by themselves.

DO think about the meanings of colours and contrast.

DO time yourself during rehearsals.

DO prepare to address language barriers.

DO manage challenges through the Acknowledge-Sympathize-Respond technique.

DO behave like the listener you would like to have as a presenter when seated in the audience to listen to other talks.


DO NOT go over time. Ever.

DO NOT add details that may jeopardize the dynamic of the exchange.

DO NOT add any element that is not essential to supporting the SOCO.

DO NOT tell them everything you know.

DO NOT write full sentences on your slides.

DO NOT use capitals letters for more than one word that deserves highlighting.

DO NOT try to communicate more than one idea per graph.

DO NOT use excessive amount of animation.

DO NOT use colours at random.

DO NOT express excessive confidence through jokes and a familiar attitude.

DO NOT have elements on the slides that are not commented upon in the script.

DO NOT use the pointer excessively (if at all). Prefer an oral description of what is on the slide

DO NOT be defensive when answering questions.

DO NOT lie or make up data when answering question.

Emphasize the scientific added value of a project

What was already known on this subject?

Introduction: Explain what the state of scientific knowledge was in this area before you did your project and why this project needed to be done.

What does this study add?

Conclusions: What do we now know as a result of this project that we did not know before?

What are the public health implications?

Recommendations: Explain how your results could support the implementation of interventions directed to solve the problem you are dealing with in your presentation. Suggest the next steps in generating more knowledge or moving forward with action.