Introduction Computerised presentations are a part of every medical student's / junior doctor's life. Sometimes we give them, often we sleep through them and occasionally we even listen to them. They are the backbone of medical education besides traditional bed-side teaching, having rapidly replaced the now extinct OHR (Over Head Projector) acetate-sheet presentations of years gone-by. The problem is that Doctors and medical students often struggle with creating and presenting coherent slides. This is most probably due to the general apathy most have for actually talking in front of an audience, or because those asked to present are often taken unawares, and therefore have little time to prepare. In these times of avolition or last-minute hurriedness, people often reach out for the industry standard of presentation production: PowerPoint. PowerPoint is the most commonly used tool for making presentations because it is simple to use and comes with a whole load of free templates. Unfortunately, most of these templates look disgusting. If a template doesn't look disgusting, then it is most certainly overused and you run the risk of having a presentation that looks identical to the student before you at the weekly seminar teaching - a scenario that can be easily likened to turning up to a lecture wearing exactly the same clothes as another person in the room, which would just be awkward. Another problem with PowerPoint is the phenomenon of 'Death By Powerpoint,' which refers to the general boredom and apathy experienced by those who have received way too much information in way too short a space of time via a series of over-cramped, poorly stylised slides. But why on earth do you care? People should care about 'Death By Powerpoint' because if your presentations cause people to zone out, then you are not getting your message across. And if you aren't getting your message across then you. are. not. presenting. at. all. (take a moment to reflect on that particularly Zen statement). Let me explain using a metaphor, if I am a sales person and I present my talk with well-designed slides, in an enthusiastic and well-rehersed manner to an appropriate audience I will make more sales than if I present using poorly designed slides at the last minute. Similarly, in Medicine if I present well designed, aesthetic slides I am more likely to convey accurate information to my colleagues that may very well be retained and enjoyed by all involved. Of course, this blog assumes a degree of presentation-related Altruism. The recommendations I am about to make require you to 'step out of the mould' and say 'no' to poor presentations. They require you to forgive others for the presentations they have inflicted on you in the past. You will 'lead by example'. Unfortunately I am not capable (or qualified) to make you an excellent designer, nor can I give you the motivation to feel as passionately about design aesthetics as i do when all you've got to do is slam some slides together for your monthly journal club. But what I can do is present to you a series of resources that might tempt you away from the horrific PowerPoint templates that currently infest medical student seminars and young doctors presentations. If you really couldn't care less, then I suggest using Prezi, a website where you can make quite eccentric looking presentations rapidly and for free. The only problem is that Prezi became cliched even before its debut and you risk inflicting travel sickness on your poor audience, what with all the funky zooming in and out of slides that occurs during a typical Prezi presentation (you will know what I mean if you've ever seen one). So, without further ado, here are my top 5 tips for making your presentations look smoother and more polished... Irrespective of whether the contents of your talk are any good. Step One: Typography Get yourself a good font. Typography is really important, when you speak to someone you use a variety of tones and gestures to convey the meaning of the words you are using. Fonts are effectively the printed version of your tone and gestures. Good font choice can help give 'umph' to a particular point in your presentation and help give character to what you are saying. Of course, it's important to remain professional so 'Wingbats' might not be your first choice, but anything that you could envisage on a nice business card is probably a good shout. Fonts are usually something you have to pay for if you want anything beyond the set given to you when you download Microsoft Word (for example). However, there are whole hosts of free fonts available from sites like [dafont])(http://www.dafont.com). The key is to be willing to trawl through these sites to find fonts that are actually useful! Beware those fancy fonts unless you know your audience can take it! If you are stuck on choosing a font, which is a common complaint, then maybe this flow diagram will help! Oh yeah, and never ever use Comic Sans. Ever. Step Two: Colour A good font isn't going to get you very far on its own. You need a solid colour scheme to bring your presentation alive. It seems blunt to say, but some people are not very good at picking colours that go well with one another. This is well evidenced in PowerPoint presentations where the yellow-text-on-blue-background is far too common. I mean yeah, in theory blue and yellow 'compliment' each other, but thats where the relationship between blue and yellow should stay... in theory. Luckily there are some useful colour palette websites available out there, which will match colours for you... Step Three: Structure After you've picked a sensible font and a suitable colour scheme, it's time to think about the structure or layout of your slides. It's absolutely crucial that you avoid putting too much information on your slides even if you are giving an academic presentation. An overloaded slide is about as useful as a dead cat. At this point, some of you may be tempted to resort to those dodgy PowerPoint default templates but there is another way! There are sites out there that have some pretty fresh templates you can use and they are completely free! They are sure to add a bit of spice to your slide's aesthetic. There will probably be a separate tutorial on this in the future, but basic principles apply. As a general rule stick to Left Alignment *and avoid *Central Alignment like the plague. Step Four: Imagery Images help to spice up a presentation, but try and keep them related to the topic. Google Images is a great resource but remember that most images will be a low resolution and will be poorly suited to being shown blown up full-size on a presentation screen. Low resolution images are a presentation killer and should be avoided at all costs. For high-quality images try sites like Flikr or ShutterStock. Step Five: Consider Software The interface of Powerpoint does not lend itself well to having images dropped in and played with to make nice looking layouts. I would recommend Adobe Photoshop for this kind of work, but not everyone will have access to such expensive software. Cheap alternatives include Photoshop Elements amongst others. Once you have created slides in Photoshop it is quick and easy to save them as JPEG files and drag and drop them into PowePoint. Perhaps that can be a tutorial for another time... Step 5: Additional Stuff Presentations typically lack significance, structure, simplicity and rehearsal. Always check over your presentation and ask 'is this significant to my audience?' Always structure your presentation in a logical manner and (it is recommended you) include a contents slide and summary slide to tie things together. Keep your verbal commentary simple and keep the slides themselves even more simple than that. Simplicity is crucial. Once you have produced your beautiful slides with wonderful content you will want to practice them. Practice, Practice, Practice. Rehearsing even just once can make a good presentation even better. Conclusion: This blog entry has covered some basic points on how to improve your medical presentations and has given a series of useful online resources. Putting effort into designing a presentation takes time and motivation, for those without these vital ingredients we recommend Prezi (whilst it is still relatively new and fresh). Perhaps the rest of you will only use these tips for the occasional important presentation. However, I hope that soon after you start approaching presentations with a little more respect for their importance and potential, you too will find a desire to produce high-quality, aesthetically pleasing talks. LARF - Mood: damn tired and feeling guilty that I just wrote this blog instead of revising haematology notes. Follow me on Twitter. Follow the Occipital Designs original blog. Check out my Arterial Schematic.
Dr. Luke Farmery
almost 9 years ago
Many may be familiar with aspergillosis as the infecting agent in acute cases where the patient is severely immunocompromised - but there is more to this fungus' repertoire. There are rare cases where the patient's immune system is overwhelmed by a large inhalation of spores e.g. after gardening, but these are insignificant in terms of total numbers effected. The following are far more common:- Aspergillus and other fungi are increasingly identified as the active agent in sinusitis - if you have cases that don't respond to antibiotics this is worth thinking about. Chronic pulmonary aspergillosis (CPA & aspergilloma) is an infection of immunocompetent people, causing respiratory difficulty, coughing and haemoptysis. The UK NHS has a specialist centre for these patients In Manchester (National Aspergillosis Centre (NAC)). NAC has particular expertise and extensive facilities for the diagnosis of CPA, ABPA, SAFS and use of systemic antifungal drugs. Allergic infection (Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis - ABPA and chronic sinusitis) is thought to be heavily underdiagnosed and undertreated. ABPA is particularly common in Asthma, Cystic Fibrosis patients and those with bronchiectasis. There is estimated to be 25 000 cases in the UK alone. Many (50%) of the most severe asthma cases are sensitive to fungi (SAFS) - in particular Aspergillus. These tend to be the most unstable cases that don't respond to antibiotics and several studies have been published that show giving an antifungal helps reduce the use of steroids for these patients. Last but not least - Tuberculosis is on the rise in the UK and the rest of the world. It is estimated that 2% of cases progress to CPA and should be treated using an antifungal - this is usually not done until considerable time has passed and much damage has been done. In total it is estimated that many millions of people across the world suffer from aspergillus - ABPA - 5 million, Tb - 400 000 per year and Asthma (SAFS - 1 - 4 million cases in EU & US). Sinusitis cases may number many tens of millions worldwide. So - the next time you assume aspergillus infections and aspergillosis are rare and confined to those who are profoundly immunocompromised - think again! If you have a patient who has increasingly severe respiratory symptoms, doesn't respond to multiple courses of antibiotics then give aspergillus a thought. Browse around these articles for further information Aspergillus Website Treatment Section. NB For a broader look at the prevalence of fungal diseases worldwide the new charity Leading International Fungal Education (LIFE) website is worth looking at.
almost 9 years ago
A drug from a parasitic mushroom that lives on caterpillars could become an effective new painkiller for people with osteoarthritis within the next six years, according to UK researchers.
over 6 years ago
Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) represents a group of rare, sometimes fatal, congenital disorders characterized by little or no immune response. The defining feature of SCID, commonly known as "bubble boy" disease, is a defect in the specialized white blood cells (B- and T-lymphocytes) that defend us from infection by viruses, bacteria and fungi. Without a functional immune system, SCID patients are susceptible to recurrent infections such as pneumonia, meningitis and chicken pox, and can die before the first year of life. Though invasive, new treatments such as bone marrow and stem-cell transplantation save as many as 80% of SCID patients.
over 6 years ago
Recurrent sore throat is an inflammation of the throat occurring three or more times per year. Sore throat has many causes, including bacteria, viruses, fungi (uncommonly) and non-infective causes. It causes throat pain, redness, swelling, swollen lymph nodes and symptoms of other accompanying respiratory infections. Antibiotics are sometimes used to prevent recurrent sore throat on the basis that sore throats can be caused by bacteria. However, frequent use of antibiotics has been linked to the development of antibiotic resistance. We looked for studies (randomised controlled trials) that investigated the effectiveness of antibiotics for preventing recurrent sore throat in adults and children.
over 6 years ago
Diagnostic Pathology: Infectious Diseases takes a comprehensive look at infectious diseases, their anatomic manifestations, and how to ensure a complete and accurate sign out at the microscope. A user-friendly chapter landscape and thousands of high-quality images combine to make this medical reference book a key companion for the general surgical pathologist or resident in training. Comprehensive discussions on how to sign out cases. Formatted into sections by organism type (Virus, Bacteria, Fungi, and Parasite), and further divided by those that can be diagnosed on histological appearance. Species-specific pathologies for finding "zebra" cases.Essential information is listed in a bulleted format with numerous high-quality images to facilitate learning."Key Facts" highlight the quick criteria needed for diagnosis or adequacy evaluation at the time of a procedure.Features clear pictures of diagnostic forms, ancillary diagnostic tools, including microbiology and molecular diagnostics, pathological reaction patterns expected for given organisms, and important common and uncommon pathogens.Explains when and when not to use molecular diagnostics, and discusses histological limitations and how to address them at sign out.
over 6 years ago