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January 11, 1985

How to Prepare and Present a Lecture

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Internal Medicine (Dr Findley) and Rhetoric and Communication Studies (Dr Antczak), University of Virginia, Charlottesville.

JAMA. 1985;253(2):246. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03350260098035

ANYONE who has attended scientific meetings or taken postgraduate medical courses knows that physicians often give confusing lectures. It is unusual to hear a physician skillfully blend the ingredients of an effective lecture. The goal of this article will be to review the essential ingredients of an enjoyable, memorable, and meaningful lecture. Although these ingredients lend themselves poorly to rigorous scientific analysis, experience shows that these ingredients are inevitably present in all effective lectures.

Know and analyze your topic. Be clear about the conclusions that you want your audience to take home and be familiar with the facts that you will invoke to prove your conclusions. Your conclusions form the basis for communication with the audience. For instance, a presentation of many complex clinical trials without some unifying conclusions will frustrate or bore a group of practicing physicians. Even if your conclusions are tentative and controversial, they give the audience