The Art of Creating Digital Slides for Medical Presentation

The Art of Creating Digital Slides for Medical Presentation

Reynaldo O. Joson, MD, MHA, MHPEd, MSc Surg

 February 22, 2012

Introduction

In practically all medical presentations nowadays, presenters use digital slides as visual aids.  Practically, nobody uses overhead transparencies anymore.

A digital slide is a single page of a presentation created with software such as Microsoft PowerPoint or OpenOffice Impress.  The most common software being used currently is Microsoft PowerPoint.   A presentation is composed of several slides.

For the past 30 years that I have been exposed to medical presentations here and abroad, and by everybody (inclusive of medical students, residents, fellows, and consultants), I have always felt the urge to impart my thoughts, perceptions, opinions, and recommendations on how to prepare proper visual aids for medical presentation.  This is triggered by my frequent observation of poor quality of visual aids in medical presentations (from my personal viewpoint) and I think the absence of an instruction or primer is a major cause for this.

Circa 1981, I wrote primers and gave lectures, imparting tips, particularly to surgical residents and colleagues, on how to make proper medical presentations.  Part of the tips include advices on how to prepare visual aids, specifically, using overhead transparencies and slides, at that time, still using Kodachrome, Ektachrome, and Kodalith films, and not yet, using the Microsoft Powerpoint that we have today.

See:

https://sites.google.com/site/digitalmedicalpresentation/presenting-in-medical-conferences

https://sites.google.com/site/digitalmedicalpresentation/art-of-making-a-transparency-as-a-visual-aid

https://sites.google.com/site/digitalmedicalpresentation/home

The advent of computers and LCD (liquid-crystal display) projectors has revolutionized the creation of visual aids for medical presentation.  As mentioned,  nowadays, practically, nobody uses overhead transparencies anymore .  What remain are slides, not film-slides anymore, but digital slides.  The Kodachrome, Ektachrome and Kodalith slides have been phased out because of higher expense and inefficiency. Nowadays, slides are readily and easily created by computers, most commonly with Microsoft Powerpoint.  These are the digital slides, which are not only easy to create but also easy to manipulate and edit.

The advent of digital cameras has likewise revolutionized the creation of visual aids for medical presentations in terms of ease in evaluation of quality, inclusion, preparation, manipulation and editing. One can quickly evaluate the quality of pictures just taken and can repeat a shot if indicated, in a jiffy, without waiting for a week for the films to be processed, as when one uses an analog camera.

Today, I have decided to write “The Art of Creating Digital Slides for Medical Presentation.” This will be a continuation of my urge to impart my thoughts, perceptions, opinions, and recommendations (TPOR) on how to prepare proper visual aids for medical presentation in the era of modern technology.

Note: I created a website on February 17, 2012, with the title of Digital Medical Presentation – Medical Photography and Digital Slides Creation.  The URL is    https://sites.google.com/site/digitalmedicalpresentation/home  This site contains all my writings and notes on the topics.

Now, on the topic on hand: “The Art of Creating Digital Slides for Medical Presentation.”

Objective

My sole objective for writing this TPOR is to give tips on how to create quality digital slides for use in medical presentations. I will present the quality parameters for digital slides and then give my opinions and recommendations on how to create proper and poor digital slides.  I will give illustrative examples.

Disclosures and Delimitations

Before proceeding any further, I will make two disclosures and three delimitations.

Disclosure 1: I am not a professional photographer who can teach people on how to use and manipulate a digital camera to produce quality pictures to be placed in digital slides.  Therefore, I will not be discussing on the different types of cameras and how to use them.

Delimitation 1: What I will impart here will just be the picture-products after using a digital camera, more specifically, on what quality parameters and criteria that should be targetted when taking pictures to be included in digital slides for medical presentation.

Disclosure 2: As of February 2012, I don’t have much experience with medical videos which can be integrated into digital slides. Therefore, I will not be discussing on medical videos for medical presentations.

Delimitation 2: What I will impart here will just be the quality parameters and criteria that should be targetted when taking still pictures to be included in medical presentation.

Delimination 3: This third delimitation can actually be deduced from the title of this write-up, just on digital slides using Microsoft Powerpoint, not including videos, for medical presentation.  Furthermore, because of lack of experience, I will also refrain from giving tips in doing animations in digital slide creation.

Digital Slides in Medical Presentation, Grouping and Kinds  

A digital slide is a single page of a presentation created with software. The most common software being used currently is Microsoft PowerPoint.   A presentation is composed of several slides.

The digital slides to be used in a medical presentation can be classified into 3 groups, namely, introductory slides, body slides, and concluding slides.  These correspond to the conventionally prescribed parts of a talk, speech, and lecture, namely, introduction, body, and conclusion.

The introductory slides consist of the title of the presentation, background information, priming slides, presentation objectives, levelling of expectations, etc.

The body slides consist of the main contents of the presentation.

The concluding slides consist of summary, conclusion, references, contact numbers for continual interaction, thank you note, etc.

There must be slides on these 3 conventionally expected parts of a talk, lecture, and presentation.  The number and nature of the slides will be dictated by the presentation as planned out by the presenter particularly, in terms of contents and allotment time.  All slides created, whether they be in the introduction, body, and conclusion, must possess the qualities of proper visual aids.  The ultimate target of using proper digital slides is to promote understanding of the message in each slide and in the end, the whole presentation.

Digital slides can be classified into word slides, table slides, picture slides, combined word-table or word-picture slides, based on the main contents of the each slide. A slide that contains words only or predominantly words is a word slide.  A slide that contains a table for its message is a table slide.  A slide that contains still pictures from digital cameras and drawings, illustrations, and documents converted into digital picture format, as main contents for its message is a picture slide. (See illustrative examples.)

Parameters of Quality of Digital Slides and Recommendations

Regardless of types of digital slides, the two big parameters of quality or proper visual aids consist of the following:  CLEAR and CLEAN.

Kinds of Slides

Parameters and Criteria

Recommendations

Word slides CLEAR in that the contents can be clearly seen by the audience from a reasonable distance

CLEAR in the letters that constitute words and the associated numbers, symbols, etc.  to create a message

Clear font type

Adequate font size

Adequate font weight

Clear font color

Non-obscuring background

Font type: Arial recommended

Font size: at least size 24, preferably size 28

Font weight: bold

Font color: sharp contrast with background

Avoid background obscuring clarity of fonts; use simple background design.

  CLEAR in message Clear theme or topic per slide

One theme or topic per slide

Avoid incorrect spelling.

Avoid incorrect grammar and syntax.

  CLEAN and not jampacked Use simple background design.

Avoid narrative text with sentences unless needed such as using quotes, formal and official statements.

Use outline format with phrases. 

Use keywords.  Avoid unnecessary articles and prepositions.

Limit to 7 lines in the body of each slide.

Table Slides CLEAR in that the contents can be clearly seen by the audience from a reasonable distance

 

Clear font type

Adequate font size

Adequate font weight

Clear font color

Font type: Arial recommended

Font size: at least size 24, preferably size 28.  If pressed to use smaller fonts, minimum size 16.

Font weight: bold

Font color: sharp contrast with background

Avoid background obscuring clarity of fonts; use simple background design.

  CLEAR in message Clear theme or topic per slide

One theme or topic per slide

Avoid incorrect spelling.

Avoid incorrect grammar and syntax.

Avoid errors in numbers.

  CLEAN tables and not jampacked Use simple background design.

Avoid data dump.  Limit to 7 rows of table in each slide.

Picture Slides

(still pictures from digital cameras and drawings, illustrations, and documents converted into digital picture format)

CLEAR in that the contents can be clearly seen by the audience from a reasonable distance

CLEAR pictures

Well-focused with good resolution (not blurred)  

With proper lighting (not over-exposed; not under-exposed)

With proper size of intended focus of interest (proper zooming-in or close-up) 

With a proper background that will promote clarity or contrast of the object of interest

  CLEAR in message With a clear pictorial message or objective such as to show the nature of the pathology or to show the nature of the activity in the picture

With proper orientation

With proper pointers, proper markers, and proper illustrations as needed

  CLEAN  pictures and not jampacked Not too many pictorial messages in one picture (preferably, one; not more than two)

Not too many intended contents or objects of interest as this will impair the clarity of the picture because of sacrifice in size

Clean pictorial person and object of interest

Clean background

  • No unnecessary background objects
  • Intra-operative pictures – such as no unnecessary gloved fingers, gauze, instruments
  • Pictures of patients – such as no unnecessary chairs, tables, and persons in the background
  • No dirty background such as blots and blood and dirty linen/cloth used as background

 

To expound on the parameters and criteria of quality digital slides and recommendations on how to achieve them, I prepared a set of slides created using Microsoft PowerPoint with slide size being 10 in x 7.5 in with landscape orientation. I included illustrative examples of proper and poor digital slides.  I strongly recommend looking at the said set of slides for maximal understanding and learning.

The slides can be seen in https://sites.google.com/site/digitalmedicalpresentation/home

I like to end this write-up with a recommendation that all presenters must create CLEAR and CLEAN digital slides if they are using them as visual aids in their medical presentations and if they want to promote understanding of the message in each slide and in the end, the whole presentation.

 

Another advice is that during the presentation, a presenter should not apologize for inclusion of poor digital slides.  In the preparation for the medical presentation, he should already outrightly exclude poor digital slides, not to include them anymore.

 

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Digital Slides. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Art of Creating Digital Slides for Medical Presentation

  1. rojoson says:

    Sorry. The set of slides to expound on this write-up is still under construction as of February 22, 2012.
    Dr. Rey

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s