Presentation skills amongst surgical trainees at a national conference: an observational study.
OBJECTIVES: The ability to deliver public presentations is important for doctors of all specialities. Despite this, there is little emphasis on training in presentation skills within medical curriculae. The aim of this paper was to establish the current standard of presentations being delivered by surgical trainees at a national conference and to confirm the need for further training. DESIGN: An observational study of 96 six-minute research presentations. SETTING: A national surgical conference in the United Kingdom. PARTICIPANTS: Four independent observers each appraised 24 six-minute presentations by surgical trainees against a pre-determined standard. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: A set of 19 audit criteria were established after a literature search to ascertain commonly accepted presentation standards. These outcome measures included keeping to time, number of slides used, the nature of slide content, methods of data representation, use of images and presentation style. RESULTS: A total of 61 (64%) presenters overran. The median number of slides used was 13 (range 6-28). Thirty-three (34%) presenters displayed slides with more than six bullet points on two or more occasions. Sixty-four (67%) presenters displayed whole paragraphs of text on two or more occasions. Sixty-eight (71%) presenters displayed raw numerical data in the course of their presentations. Seventy (73%) presenters used images. Thirty-one (32%) presenters repeatedly read out sentences word-for-word from their slides. Nineteen (20%) presenters appeared not to know their presentation content well. CONCLUSIONS: Presentation skills amongst surgical trainees are well below those that should be aspired to. Efforts to improve training, motivation and the examples set by senior surgeons should be instigated in order to improve this situation.