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Presentations at Medical School: Top Tips

While most of medical school assessment consists of exam after exam, there are other ways to check what you know and encourage you to do research. One of these is doing presentations. This can be a pretty intimidating thought, especially if you aren’t used to presenting or don’t like speaking in front of groups of people. However, just because it might not be your thing doesn’t mean you can’t do a great job. I hope that some of the tips below will help you, so you can make the most of any presentations you deliver at medical school. 

1. Talk about something you’re interested in

Sometimes you are assigned a topic to present, but if you aren’t, choose something you will enjoy researching. If you care about your subject, your enthusiasm will look great and will be obvious to your tutor. If you are assigned a topic and it’s something you really are not interested in, there’s no harm in asking your tutor if you can swap – the worst they can say is no.

2. Dress to impress

This doesn’t mean don a tuxedo or a sparkly cocktail dress, but wear something that you feel confident in and looks professional – this means a shirt/blouse and trousers/skirt, depending on what you feel most comfortable in.

3. Have water on standby

This is a must in my opinion. No matter how long the presentation is, it is so important to have access to some water to drink within reaching distance. You may never take a sip but it can be a useful way to gather your thoughts if you feel you’re struggling.

4. Present in front of your friends

Nerves are the worst part of public speaking or presenting – and what better way to get over them than to present in front of the people who will make fun of you? Joking aside, your friends can be a great stand-in audience. It gives you the opportunity to practice what you are going to say in front of people who aren’t marking you but will be able to give constructive feedback.

The key to getting over the nerves is being confident in what you have to say and practising in front of people really helps. Make sure you return the favour when it’s their turn to present too!

5. Plant your questions

This one isn’t always possible but when it is – do it! If you are presenting in front of other students you could get someone you know to ask you a question which you can give a great answer to, but don’t make it too obvious. If, for example, you run out of time and thereby don’t talk about a specific drug but someone asks you on it anyway it might arouse suspicion, so be clever about it!

Words: Ruari McGowan

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