top of page

Presentations and meetings: Make it memorable

Medical Presentations, attention and memory

Knowing the best way to present your information is important.

The most common problems found in meetings or conferences is lack of focus on productive information and education.


What is the best method of preparing your information?

A study by Garner and Alley (2013) found the best way to present a slide was with assertion-evidence.

This is a method for displaying information with a superior effect on the learner's comprehension and recall of details. It supports the promotion and development of accurate mental models.

Assertion-evidence incorporates characteristics of:

- sentence headline with a main message or assertion (instead of a phrase headline)

- the absence of a topic– subtopic format

- multimedia learning

- instructional design.

One sentence headings have proven to adequately represent many spoken sentences and identify relationships between concepts. Images are explanatory to support, explain or interpret the sentence heading as evidence (Garner & Alley, 2013).

According to Issa et al. (2011), multimedia design education offers statistically significantly greater improvements in retention than traditional methods. Multimedia includes illustrations, photographs, diagrams, charts and maps, animation and videos.


Presenting information with agility

Best practices for scientific communication are required in conferences to deliver information without compromising the scope of coverage of a topic and depth. Effective oral prose is important and can only be achieved by adopting a swift spirit which fosters enthusiasm and energy (Lortie, 2017).

Some important rules should be considered as mentioned in Bourne, (2007) and (Lortie, 2017).

- Talk to the audience.

- Make a path with the aim to deliver one clear message with only essential information.

- Have a logical, storytelling approach.

- Stand your ground when giving information that is accurate (in likeness to being on a stage).

- Present one main concept per slide (20 slides or 5–6 minutes).

- Focus more on relevant viewing.

- Use different visuals if repeating information.

- Simplify visual images.

- Theme with consistency.

- Shorten information to emphasise importance.

- Provide a contact information slide at the end of the presentation.

- Approach and deliver following timed practice.

- Reveal your gratuitous acknowledgements for the work of others.


Improve focus

As a presenter, focusing and directing your attention from within yourself to the situation improves outcomes and has an impact.

"In general, directing performers’ attention to the effects of their movements (external focus of attention) appears to be more beneficial than directing their attention to their own movements (internal focus of attention)," (Wulf & Prinz, 2001).

Techniques to help you direct and improve:

1. Introduce relevant problems and the effect of repetition.

2. Reveal evidence of current practice.

3. Research existing information and reveal the outcomes of implementation.

4. Aim to help and identify mercy and compassionate actions.

5. Focus on injustices with qualitative and quantitative evidence.


Encouraging problem solving and feedback

The relationship between solving a problem and remembering a solution is influenced by the phenomenon of spacing repetitions, proactive inhibition and automaticity (Jacoby, 1978).

Spaced Learning

Learning at a greatly increased speed and in a pattern that included deliberate distraction produced significantly higher scores than random answers (Kelley & Whatson, 2013).

Proactive inhibition

Proactive inhibition reduces false memory and enables learning experiences. Participants became more risk averse as a consequence of high-confidence errors (Jacoby, Wahlheim, Rhodes, Daniels & Rogers, 2010).

Automaticity and predictive learning

A study by Shone, Harris and Livesey (2015), found that participants that were given time for prior predictiveness of cues benefited with automaticity and cognitive control with improved learning. The results were over and above those affected by explicit instruction.


Critical thinking

Motivation is a situation. Harmon-Jones, Gable and Price (2013), identify low motivation intensity broadens cognitive scope while high motivational intensity narrows cognitive scope. This is apparent in both positive and negative states. A balance between autonomous motivation and controlled motivation is essential as it correlates with a relative effect towards academic performance and deep strategy (Kusurkar, Cate, Vos, Westers & Croiset, 2012).


Remembering the presentation

Social media is a powerful tool option used to communicate experiences and continue working relationships after a presentation. Dissemination of information and supportive feedback can motivate attitudes towards strategic actions for research and future ventures.

Email correspondence gives opportunities for people to share memories and impressions.

Reviews with collaborating participants of the study enable action and task planning.

The following table identifies the best time to connect with others to enhance recall of a presentation.

(Changing Minds, n.d.)


Improving recall beyond

Research by the University of Minnesota and the 3M company found that persuasive presentations using visual aids improved memory recall by 8.5% and improved delay recall after 3 days by 10.1% (as cited in Hamilton, 1982).


Suggested Reading



Bourne, P. E. (2007). Ten simple rules for making good oral presentations. PLoS Computational Biology, 3(4). doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.0030077

Changing Minds: Active learning. (n.d.). Retrieved September 14, 2017, from the Changing Minds Web site:

Garner, J. K., & Alley, M. P. (2013). How the design of presentation slides affects audience comprehension: A case for the assertion–evidence approach. International Journal of Engineering Education, 29(6). Retrieved from

Hamilton, C. (Eds). (1982). Communicating for results: A guide for business and the professions (9th ed.). Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Harmon-Jones, E., Gable, P. A., & Price, T. F. (2013). Does negative affect always narrow and positive affect always broaden the mind? Considering the influence of motivational intensity on cognitive scope. Psychological Science, 22(4). Retrieved from

Issa, N., Schuller, M., Santacaterina, S., Shapiro, M., Wang, E., Mayer, R. E., & DaRosa, D. A. (2011). Applying multimedia design principles enhances learning in medical education. Medical Education, 45(8), 818–826. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2923.2011.03988.x

Jacoby, L. L. (1978). On interpreting the effects of repetition: Solving a problem versus remembering a solution. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, I7. Retrieved from

Jacoby, L. L., Wahlheim, C. N., Rhodes, M. G., Daniels, K. A., & Rogers, C. S. (2010). Learning to diminish the effects of proactive interference: Reducing false memory for young and older adults. Memory and Cognition, 38(6). doi:10.3758/MC.38.6.820

Kelley, P., & Whatson, T. (2013). Making long-term memories in minutes: A spaced learning pattern from memory research in education. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 25(7). doi:10.3389/fnhum.2013.00589.

Kusurkar, R. A., Cate, T. J. T., Vos, C. M. P., Westers, P., & Croiset, G. (2013). How motivation affects academic performance: A structural equation modelling analysis. Advances in Health Sciences Education Theory and Practice, 18(1), 57–69. doi:10.1007/s10459-012-9354-3

Lortie, C. J. (2017). Ten simple rules for short and swift presentations. PLoS Computational Biology, 13(3). doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005373

Shone, L. T., Harris, I. M., & Livesey, E. J. (2015). Automaticity and cognitive control in the learned predictiveness effect. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition, 41(1). Retrieved by

Wulf, G., & Prinz, W. (2001). Directing attention to movement effects enhances learning: A review. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 8(4). Retrieved from

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page