To develop a presentation framework, use these strategies

  Create a structure for your presentation
  Create a structure for your presentation

A best practice for all presentations is this simple 3-step framework:

Step 1: Tell participants the content you are covering, review the objectives, and explain what learners will experience (audience response questions, case, discussion, etc.)

Step 2: Deliver your content and facilitate learning (activities, exercises, discussions, audience response, etc.)

Step 3: Remind learners what you (as a group) have discussed and accomplished together. Link back to your objective(s).

Tip

As you are delivering content and facilitating learning (STEP 2 of framework), you can enhance learners’ ability to stay engaged and keep up with the progress of your presentation by organizing your content and presentation into a structure that they can follow. You will be “dividing” your presentation into segments that allow you to create digestible “chunks” of topics for your learners to absorb and retain.

You can use narrative themes (e.g., 5 steps, 4 Key Lessons, 3 Best Practices) or visuals that depict parts of a picture that are being assembled as the presentation progresses (e.g., roadmaps, arrows, diagrams, algorithms).

Tip

When you use a recognizable structure within a presentation framework, you are creating an organization for information that allows learners to follow along and know where they are in their learning process. A structure lets the learners know when you are starting and ending sections or segments of your presentation. A structure also helps you find natural places within your presentation to pause and build in time for engagement exercises.

Tip

Faculty Tips:

  • Start by creating an outline for your presentation that includes the objectives at the beginning. Each section of the outline should help you meet your objectives so remember to reference them as you complete the outline.
  • Determine what kind of structure would work best for your presentation and if there is a visual or short phrase you can use to depict the structure. For example, “Five Keys to Treatment” may use images of keys.
  • As you build your structure and complete your outline, build time in for learning activities and learner engagement with cases, audience response questions, Q&A, etc.
  • Remember to circle back to your objectives at the end of the presentation to remind learners what has been discussed. Revisiting your objectives at the end of a presentation allows you to also share key take-away messages with learners.

Video Examples

Endocarditis of Native and Prosthetic Valves Diagnosis and Treatment Guideline (11:15)
Faculty: Rick A. Nishimura, MD, MACC

In this session, Rick A. Nishimura, MD, MACC uses a structure to divide the content of his presentation. A visual that depicts the structure remains visible throughout the session.

Faculty: Rick A. Nishimura, MD, MACC

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Communicating with Patients and Families Re HCM (13:04)
Faculty: Clyde Yancy, MD, FACC

Clyde Yancy, MD, FACC presents his content within a structure that he revisits and summarizes at the end.

Faculty: Clyde Yancy, MD, FACC

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Lifestyle Changes to Prevent AF; An Underutilized Modality (06:01)
Source: John Day, MD, FACC

John Day, MD, FACC shares his content within the structure of "8 Lifestyle Approaches." Learners can easily keep track of the progress of the session.

Faculty: John Day, MD, FACC

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  Simplify the presentation of complex information
  Simplify the presentation of complex information

Medical data and information is complex and can present challenges to faculty in how to display both relevant and the right amount of information for learners.

Graphs, articles, images, videos, and registry reports all have significant value yet can include such dense information that the key points can be easily lost.

Graphs and images are often displayed along side text. When graphics and text accompany one another on the same slide, use Cognitive Load Theory9 to guide decisions about how much text and what image(s), together, create your “message” that will best support learning. In order for learning to occur, your information must connect with the learners’ cognitive schema (mental model). If your key point is masked by too much information, which can take the form of too much text and overly complicated graphs or images, learners’ cognitive load will be too high and learning will be impeded.

When making decisions about what data and information to share, reference your objectives. The data and information you are sharing should help participants meet your objectives.

Another strategy to use to simplify the presentation of complex information is to draw the learners’ attention directly to the main point of your message (text or graphic). Give the learners a visual “cue” or prompt.


  1. Chandler, P. & Sweller, J. (1991). Cognitive Load Theory and the Format of Instruction. Cognition and Instruction, 8(4), 293-332.
Tip

Faculty Tips:

  • Identify the main points from the article, image, graphic, etc. that will help you meet your objectives. Determine how to best display those main points so that the learner “sees” the main points quickly within the context of your key learning points. Using arrows, different font colors, circles, etc. can be effective in drawing learners’ attention to exactly what you want them to see.
  • Display only the section of an article that is relevant to your point or overlay a text box with a key point
  • Simplify graphs to display only the information related to your key points.
  Keep slides straightforward and focused
  Keep slides straightforward and focused

The same idea applies to bullets as well - do not use too many!

  • If you use too many bullets
  • Your topic is busy
  • Your show is confusing
  • Your audience gets lost
  • Your audience will get tired of you talking
  • It's just too much!
  • You no more than three bullets per slide or text box
  • Otherwise its irritating
  • See what I mean?
  • Have I lost your interest yet?
  • I'm not interested any more...
  • What was I saying?
  • PowerPoint®, as your learning tool, helps you both deliver content and facilitate engagement. When you are utilizing PowerPoint®, or a similar tool, to help you deliver content, it is important to keep your slides straightforward and focused. This means keeping both the content of what you say and what appears on your slides simple. Keeping things simple will actually help you, and your learners, stay focused.

    Keeping things straightforward, simple and focused doesn’t mean your content is simple. Rather, it’s the delivery of the content, both verbal and nonverbal, that should be simple and focused.

    Why is this important?

    In order for learning to occur, new information must connect with learners’ own knowledge and cognitive schema (mental models). When new information is too complicated or cluttered with irrelevant details, learners are unable to focus on the actual key points of the new information. Irrelevant details can take the form of what is said, as well as text and graphics on slides.

    According to Cognitive Load Theory, when learners engage in activities “that are not directed at schema acquisition and automation,”10 learning can be impeded because the content and activities are greater than what they can cognitively process. The load is too high.


    1. Sweller, J. (1994). Cognitive Load Theory, Learning Difficulty, And Instructional Design. Learning and Instruction, 4, pp. 293-312, p. 299.
    Tip

    Faculty Tips:

    • Keep content simple by focusing on key points that support learning objectives.
    • Limit key points to 3 per slide, or fewer.
    • Use simple visuals that complement and help make your key points.
    • Limit use of text and graphics that require learners to switch back and forth from text to graphic in order to see the key point.

    Video Examples

    Lifestyle Changes to Prevent AF; An Underutilized Modality (06:01)
    Source: John Day, MD, FACC

    John Day, MD, FACC simplifies complex information in a variety of ways within each of his eight key points.

    Faculty: John Day, MD, FACC

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    Univentricular Shock Is a Myth; The Role of RV Failure in Cardiogenic Shock (03:11)
    Faculty: Navin Kapur, MD, FACC

    Navin Kapur, MD, FACC simplifies his presentation of complex information by using arrows and projecting key points on graphs.

    Faculty: Navin Kapur, MD, FACC

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