painless powerpoint prep

April 20, 2011

well, hello!
top o’ the morning to you on this lovely wednesday. i am in a rather expansive [hypomanic?] mood at the moment, having gotten up at an absurd hour* to finish up a powerpoint presentation that i’ll be giving today.

but before i get into describing my [relatively] painless methods of presentation prep, i wanted to share the results of yesterday’s survey, which i found rather interesting!

i have to admit i was rather surprised to see jenna take the lead, but i agree her blog makes my mouth water on a daily basis. the most fun was seeing the write-in answers: a shout-out to the broccoli hut, the daily garnish, and one lovely soul who just wrote “shu”. i have to say i was oddly and immensely flattered by this — and i’m sure the ezekiel company is happy about their flourishing english muffin sales.

* all in the name of energy management

so about the powerpoint . . .
i wanted to share my method of presentation-creating with you. not because i think i make the world’s most awesome presentations [i don’t], but because over the years of making them, i feel like my method has evolved nicely into one that is not all that unpleasant.

medical school and residency are chock full of assigned presentations — and this is true in fellowship to an even greater extent. powerpoint = the medical training equivalent to a term paper. i guess this makes sense, because if you’re going to take time to do research on a topic, it might as well be shared with others who will benefit.

all right! so, i really did used to dread writing these things. i would sit there, sifting through pubmed with an open powerpoint window, trying to synthesize an insta-presentation. i also felt pressured to churn out ‘perfect’ slides right from the start. this method, unsurprisingly, yielded nothing but frustration [and then, of course, procrastination!].

today, i take it much more step by step. here’s how it usually goes . . .

step 1: think about the question i am trying to address, and spend a chunk of time just gathering relevant articles. it’s really important not to skimp on this step! that may sound obvious, but i used to just haphazardly start printing out a few papers on the general topic, without really considering how useful they were.

i think it’s good to spend a session doing JUST this step — because see? NOT all that painful! it’s just a search. and once you’ve finished this, you’ve successfully started your project.

step 2: carefully read [don’t just skim] the articles that are really relevant. i like to take notes on paper [i know you’re shocked] and firmly believe that a cute notebook helps. however, notes on a word document would work fine, too.

again, this step is pretty painless as well. you’re just reading, you know? no pressure to craft the perfect slide show just yet. of course, while going through this step you may end up adding a papers to your reading list [ie, finding a source in the references of another]. this is fine . . .within reason!

notes for my CGMS presentation
note: fewer sources that you really know the ins-and-outs of are better than a long list of papers you really just glanced at! that way, when dr. so-and-so tries to slip you up by asking about the methodology used in a study you referenced, you’re in the clear.

step 3: now that you’re super-knowledgeable on your topic-of-choice, lay out an agenda.

i strongly believe this is an important part of any presentation, and doing this first provides you with a structure to follow. based on this backbone, you can then make slide headers, but without taking the time to fill in the details yet. you’re just sketching at this point, so . . . still painless. no pressure.

step 4: all right, NOW fill in the gaps, using details from your notes, and [if applicable] graphics from the papers you want to reference. for me, this is the most stressful part, but by setting aside a session for JUST this, it’s typically not so bad. after all, you’ve already done the thinking part — this is just getting it onto the screen in an organized format.

don’t worry about making it pretty yet — just get it DONE. there will be time for picture-adding and other beautification in the last step.

step 5: okay, all of the info there? go at it — make it shiny!

add pictures, move text boxes around — do what you need to do to make the presentation look relatively polished + interesting. personally, i like to use a lot of pictures, so this step is when i get my google images on and add them.

step 6: practice [or not]. i actually am terrible about this — i don’t have much stage fright, so i tend to just wing it fairly often! it helps that i know the objectives of my presentation and the studies/graphs that i have included very well [from steps 2-4], so i am not going to blank out when i see a complicated graph pop up on the screen. however, i should be better about doing dry runs with my slides — i’ll do my best to take my own advice!

hope this helps some of you — i often get emails/questions about study tips and such, and i do not really consider myself an expert. however, this is a process that seems to work nicely for me. if you have any tips to add, please do!



workout: power/yin yoga class (75 min) @ BP. i almost skipped this to do my presentation but decided to get up early instead. i think this was the right choice, even though i am pretty sure i am going to crash at about 7 pm today.

salad of the week
= a new concept in the SHUbox kitchen. i love loaded salads for dinner, and we don’t go that route nearly often enough. now that it’s warmer, i am going to aim for at least one salad-y meal per week.

this week’s creation is from eating well. i actually don’t currently subscribe to this magazine [i get about a million others], but bought it on a whim in the whole foods checkout line.

however, if this recipe is any indication, maybe i COULD use just one more subscription . . .

curried salad with egg + cashews
we both absolutely LOVED this meal. josh was literally drinking the leftover dressing [i know . . .but i’m just telling it like it is!]. i had actually hard-boiled the eggs on monday night while i was making dinner, so it was extremely easy to put together post-yoga. i don’t often repeat recipes but this one may have to come back at some point!

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