Can you measure the science in the art of presenting? #WILTW

This is the 182nd #WILTW

It’s been a busy morning, you’ve got e-mails to catch up on and a report due in imminently. But you don’t want to let down the presenter at the lunchtime teaching session so you grab a sandwich and find a seat at the back of the seminar room.

Regardless of content what’s likely to grab your attention for the next hour and what isn’t?

It’s with this in mind a paper I read this week on quantitative analysis of slide presentations caught my eye (found via this article). It’s a review of talks from an ophthalmology conference where various potential metrics of presentation quality were compared to overall audience feedback. There were only 17 presentations and the evaluation ‘rubric’ was an amalgamation of perceptions of value and quality measured via a 4 point scale (1 – low to 4 – high). While there are some inherent issues with using this scale as a gold standard the metrics reviewed covered a wide range of potential influences on presentation quality.

Ing et al 2017 Quantitative analysis of the text and graphic content in ophthalmic slide presentations Can J Ophthalmology 52;2 171-174

Only the number of slides per minute, with higher scoring lectures showing a greater average (3.07) than lower scoring ones (2.17), were associated with a difference. Given the number of metrics evaluated, this difference may have occurred by chance so I don’t think anyone should rush away and add in extra slides to their already crowded presentations!

Fair play to the authors for looking for concrete reproducible techniques with which to improve lecture quality. However I suspect even they would have been surprised if they’d found the magic bullet with this approach. The challenge is the components of a good lecture can often be described but less easily defined. Ross Fisher has been championing an approach to the delivery of the better presentation called P3 (story x supportive media x delivery)

Seems as if fretting over font size, graphics and your text density probably isn’t where the good presentation is going to come from!

What have you learnt this week? #WILTW

You can now follow WILTW on Facebook by liking this page . Browse previous posts here or insert your e-mail address in the box on the right hand side to receive future posts

Related post: Is your powerpoint slide teaching or are you?

Leave a Reply