The PCNR Handy Guide to: Giving a Presentation

Policy & Management

Deborah Glover, BSc (joint hons), PG Dip CPM, RGN, Editor, Primary Care Nursing Review

Picture the scene; you’ve been asked to do a presentation at a forthcoming study day. This means that someone thinks the work you are doing deserves a wider audience – yeah! But then you think, ‘If I’m standing on the stage doing the presentation, it’s assumed that I’m the one who knows more, or at least as much, as those sitting in the audience.

This can be quite daunting – even ‘seasoned’ circuit presenters can get nervous beforehand. Some are nervous with a large crowd, others with a small group. It doesn’t help that only 7% of any presentation’s impact is due to what is said – the rest is down to presentation aids (‘death by PowerPoint’, dearth of PowerPoint, presenter just reading everything that is on slide), speaker appearance/confidence (arm waving, walking around the stage, nervous pen clicking, laser pointers flashing at ceiling rather than slide), etc.

A speech is a solemn responsibility. The man who makes a bad thirty-minute speech to two hundred people wastes only half an hour of his own time. But he wastes one hundred hours of the audience’s time- more than four days – which should be a hanging offence

Jenkin Lloyd Jones

However, if you consider these points, things should be a little easier.


1. Preparation is key:

  • What are you presenting?
  • Know what you want to achieve
  • Know your audience
  • Rehearse
  • Know your content/subject
  • Eliminate waffle

2. Be prepared….

  • Anticipate the questions that may be asked by your audience
  • Know your audience (makes the above easier…)
  • Rehearse (makes the above easier…)
  • Know your content/subject (makes the above easier…)


3. Capture your audience’s attention - IMMEDIATELY!


4. Your message should be…

  • Clear - Tiger played a round / Tiger played around
  • Brief - KISS (keep it simple, stupid!)
  • Visual
  • Human
  • Memorable – ‘So in conclusion, we have developed a pressure ulcer risk assessment tool that is 98% accurate’

5. Language

Don’t assume you have to use language in a different way - formal and serious is not necessarily right

  • ‘Customers are kindly invited to refrain from smoking’
  • We would like to kindly remind guests that there is a strictly No Smoking Policy in all our bedrooms subject to a charge of £50 (can’t begin to tell you what’s wrong with this sentence!)

6. Using PowerPoint

  • Only 2 fonts per slide; avoid ‘calligraphy’ type fonts
  • No more than 4 colours (text slide)
  • Maximum 5 bullet points
  • Max 8 lines
  • No long sentences & spell check – twice!
  • Avoid fancy backgrounds, animations and sound effects
  • Limit number of slides – the fewer the better

7. Take a few deep breaths before you start!

8. Remember, the professionals don’t always get it right – some headlines from local and national newspapers

  • Something went wrong in jet crash, expert says
  • Drunk gets nine months in violin case
  • Lung cancer in women mushrooms
  • Red tape holds up new bridge
  • Kids make nutritious snacks