CORD 2014 Presentation Design Bootcamp

And one more announcement!

As I mentioned, Dr. Poznanski, Dr. Tubbs, Dr. Lin and I will be teaming up to deliver presentation design MANIA to CORD 2014.

Mark your itinararies for 1:30-2:20p on April 2nd. 

Since it is a short session, we want to offer participants the opportunity to prepare themselves by reviewing the slide set ahead of time (see below). Also, as a reminder, bring your laptops and a presentation you want to work on or improve.

Hope to see you all then.

Amazing workshop indeed…

…thanks to the thirty EM physician educators from around the world who participated in our workshop at The Teaching Course with gusto and made revolutionary changes to their slide design practice, as you can see on the ALiEM site.

In follow-up to Tyson’s post below, here are key take home points from our talk:


“The Lecture is dead, but the Presentation is alive.” Being a good PRESENTER is about becoming a star speaker and having a stellar slide soundtrack  ( 2010).  

Creating that amazing slide soundtrack starts with storyboarding in analog, as described by both Garr Reynolds and Nancy Duarte, (i.e. on a whiteboard or with pen and paper…gasp!) and also avoids two common bad habits:

  1. Content Overload = teaching your learner too much information.                           It’s best to stick with 3-4 points at max. Remember: The NNT is 4…number needed to  TEACH!
  2. Cognitive Overload = slide design that competes with your spoken message. Avoid making your learners multitask with excessive stimuli on the slide that requires cognitive processing power. Multitasking can lead to traumatic brain injury! Instead, slides should be in the background and provide a powerful emotional and visual message, just like the auditory message of your favorite soundtrack. One of my all-time favs is Braveheart. Imagine capturing that power and emotion the next time you design a presentation.

To avoid cognitive overload, it is best to follow those principles of multimedia design. In upcoming posts, we will provide practical tips on HOW you do this in your slide design software. Be on the lookout for our new series: Slide Studio 101.

Until then…what’s your favorite soundtrack and how does it inspire you?

A special thanks to Michelle Lin and the faculty and participants of The International Faculty Development and Teaching Course. #IEMTC13

The next course is just around the corner!
April 28-May 2, 2014
Registration open Friday, Nov 8th.

The Dr. Fox Lecture

Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 9.22.20 PM

The phenomenon in which the style of a lecture masks its poor content is known as the “Dr. Fox Effect.”

In the 1970’s, three researchers hired an actor, Michael Fox, to “teach charistmatically and nonsubstantively on a topic about which he knew nothing.” The lecture, titled “Mathematical Game Theory as Applied to Physician Education,” was attended or rewatched via video by a total of 55 participants (physicians, educators, and administrators).

This is a video of the lecture:


This is a video of an edited version with clips added:


Table 1 from the paper shows the responses that the participants had to the survey.

  • Group 1 – 11 psychiatrists, psychologists, and social-worker educators
  • Group 2 – 11 psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychiatric social workers
  • Group 3 – 33 educators and administrators with 21 of these holding master’s degrees, 8 with bachelor’s degrees, and 4 with other degrees not specified

Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 9.15.23 PM(Click to enlarge)

The authors concluded that “style was more influential than content in providing learner satisfaction” for those participants in the study. They were specifically aiming to address the idea that student ratings of educators had more to do with personality than with educational content.

What implications does this have for us as medical educators? There are many different theories that can come from this study. The authors themselves write “there is much more to teaching than making students happy.” This is very true, but much like attention, there is an undeniable effect of “performance” on gaining interest and motivating learners. The authors note that “despite having been misinformed, the motivation of some respondents to learn more about the subject matter persisted.”

Although much more research has to be done in this area to answer the question effectively, my own answer is summarized in a quote I use frequently in my presentations:

“Successful teaching is a performance, and the sooner we make peace with that, the better.” – Tauber, et. al.


Naftulin D, Ware J, and Donnelly F. “The Doctor Fox Lecture: A Paradigm of Educational Seduction.” Journal of Medical Education. 1973;43:630-5

Tauber R, Mester C. Acting Lessons for Teachers: Using Performance Skills in the Classroom. Praeger, 2007. 2nd edition.