Grand Rounds Preparation Guidelines
The MSTP Grand Rounds Series is a vehicle to showcase not only the MSTP program, but also to highlight important biomedical research developments. Each Grand Rounds is ~50 minutes in length, divided into 2 integrated sections. MSTP students are paired for MSTP GR such that each trainee prepares and presents one section. The section details an interesting case and the relevant diagnostic information (laboratory tests, biopsies and imaging studies). The second section details a focused avenue of research directly related to the case; for example related to the area of diagnosis, pathogenesis, or therapeutic intervention. Involvement of faculty acting as clinical and/or scientific mentors is strongly encouraged as they can help define suitable cases and topics, provide raw data and images, and preside over the question and answer session at the end of the presentation. The MSTP GR committee participates in the preparation of each MSTP Grand Rounds through a series of 3 sessions spanning roughly the 4 weeks prior to each presentation. The committee helps with the selection of a case and appropriately focused topics, the composition of the slides (both content and style/format), and fine-tuning the presentation.
The following guidelines are designed to assist you in each phase of preparation, and will help streamline the total preparation time. Most of you already possess and practice many of these skills. While we encourage you to develop your own style, we also want to emphasize that the overall presentation must be integrated to deliver clear, concise, and accurate information in a highly professional manner.
Targeting the Audience
The typical audience for MSTP GR is quite diverse,and includes graduate students, research assistants, residents, fellows, faculty and importantly, University of Iowa MSTP recruits. You should target your presentation to the level of a first-year medical student. Thus, you should use medically appropriate terminology, but not overly or unnecessarily technical terms or jargon. When illustrating an abnormal result or finding, you should also present the normal/healthy version to highlight the differences, whenever possible. Presentations must follow HIPPA guidelines in order to protect patients' medical and personal information, and you should treat their unique characteristics (which occasionally seem odd or humorous) with the greatest respect and discretion.
Selecting a Case and Topics
- Begin the process of choosing a case not less than six weeks prior to your scheduled MSTP GR presentation (prior to presentation: PTP).
- Ideally, you should choose a patient you have interacted with during your clerkships (not mandatory).
- You should review the MSTP Grand Rounds archive to avoid topics that have been discussed within the last 2 years.
- The cases do not have to be ‘zebras;’ garden-variety cows and pigs are also relevant, and often may be presented in a unique manner that focuses on a timely and interesting topic.
- You should have at least 2 distinct cases in mind by the time you meet for session 1 with the GR committee.
- The case will need to dovetail to a focused area of recent scientific advance, allowing an interesting and timely research "story" to be covered in the second part of the GR.
- Selection of suitable topics from within yourcases can be challenging, and your mentors and the GR committee can be of assistance. The key is to focus on a clearly defined topic that may be covered in depth, and that allows for a relevant, integrated scientific presentation. It is paramount to detail a few key experiments and their resultant data and conclusions during the research portion of the presentation.
Selecting Clinical and Scientific Mentors
- Often, this person will be associated with the case (i.e., an attending) and you will have an established relationship with that person; if not, ask for help from the GR committee, other MSTPs, etc.
- You may need to find a secondary, research mentor if the clinical mentor does not have sufficient research expertise.
- These mentors can greatly facilitate your presentation: they can offer suitable, well-focused topics, clinical and/or research data and graphics/slides, and primary references (or at least authors).
- Mentors should be invited and strongly encouraged to attend the GR presentation to act as facilitators during the question-and-answer period
- Do not invite the participation of a faculty mentor after-the-fact; this may lead to potential difficulties and is disrespectful, in general.
Selecting a Grand Rounds Title
- Should be catchy without being crude, crass, or cryptic. It should also be concise and clearly convey the basic topic of the presentation. Examples: "Targeted treatments for Familial Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis-Plugging Holes in the Immunologic Repertoire" or "Acute Glossophobia: You took the words right out of my mouth!"
- You should choose the title by the end of session 1 (4 weeks PTP) to allow adequate time for advertisement; this means that cases and topics are also decided by the end of session 1.
Presentation Format Basic
- Should have "MSTP Grand Rounds Series" at the top; the exact title as advertised in large font, centered; names of the presenters and the date in smaller font, centered and below
- if you include names containing numbers or Greek letters, be sure to submit them accurately to avoid confusion (e.g., MIP-1a may be mistaken for "MIPIA" or worse, "MI-PIA")
- Slide Titles
- Shoot for one-liners in 40 point font; rarely, 2 lines may be needed (36 pt font)
- Be consistent: try to have titles on all slides and use the same font and style; if you separate your title from other text and graphics with a line, do it for all of them (in both presentations)
- Use Helvetica or Arial; these are easiest to read from the back of the room
- For text lines below, shoot for 20-point or higher; for labels in graphics, 14 pt or higher
- Text Slides
- Not counting the title, you should have no more than 5 lines of text per slide
- Use bullets to visually break up your points
- Use concise, declarative phrases, not verbose sentences; avoid qualifiers such as "rather," " slightly," "extremely," and non-standard jargon or abbreviations (e.g., "crit, or Hct" for " Hematocrit"; "CXR," for "chest X-ray")
- Avoid slide after slide of text-especially during the clinical presentation; break up the text slides with graphics and images-they convey more information in the same space
- Use blue background with light-colored text (yellow or white) is easiest on the eyes, but a white background with dark text color (black or dark blue) also works well; avoid using color indiscriminately and remember up to 10% of your male audience will have some degree of color vision impairment-especially red-green color blindness.
- Be consistent with your color scheme; avoid bright or garish colors
- Limit the number of graphics to no more than 2 per slide; otherwise, they will have to be shrunken to fit and thus may not be legible
- Inclusion of high-quality graphic images dramatically enhances your presentation
- If a figure cannot be pasted into your presentation effectively, re-draw it so that key information is legible; omit legends if they are confusing or illegible and unnecessary.
- Always cite your 'borrowed' figures, even those from internet sources
- When importing photographs, especially photomicrographs, always use high-density images, since you will often need to enlarge them. In general, TIFFs and GIFs work better than JPEGs.
- Do not complicate your graphics with extraneous detail or color (i.e., signal transduction diagrams with 23 arrows and 6 branch points); LESS IS MORE.
- Avoid Animation
- Unless critical for control of attention or to emphasize a subtle contrast or finding (e.g., an overlay). Misuse or overuse of animation will quickly annoy your audience and impair your ability to communicate effectively.
- Don't forget to acknowledge your mentor(s) and the MSTP on the final slide; it doesn't work well in this dual-presentation format to put this slide in at the beginning.
MSTP Grand Rounds Committee Sessions
- Session 1 ~4 weeks PTP
- What to have prepared:
- Outline of several possible cases.
- The two MSTP students should pre-communicate regarding the possible cases and scientific tie-ins.
- Goals of the session:
- Discuss the cases; select one case and define the topics.
- Discuss the selection of mentors.
- Discuss approaches for integration of research section.
- Decide on an unified theme/format for the presentation.
- Review format guidelines for slides (if necessary).
- Session 2: ~10 days PTP
- What to have prepared:
- Both students should have nearly complete drafts of their respective slides.
- The presentations should be nearly final in your mind and already rehearsed.
- Goals of the session:
- Intense review and critique of the completed (or nearly-so) slide presentations.
- Be prepared for detailed analysis and constructive criticism; many of your slides will be modified, some will be eliminated.
- Be prepared to take extensive notes regarding each slide.
- Choose a title so that it may be advertised in advance.
- Together we will has out integration fo the presentations, communication of major themes, clarity of key points, clarity of graphics, final logical conclusions and closure of case .
- Session 3: ~2-3 days PTP
- What to have prepared:
- An esentially complete, final presentation, including integrated transition between the two presentation components.
- Presentations should already fit in the allotted time time frames (20 minutes per section).
- Goals of the session:
- Dress rehearsal without the dress; your presentations will be delivered without interuptions and will be timed.
- Be prepared to take per slide notes regarding: final edits, additions, omissions, corrections, stylistic elements.
- Your presentations should be tight and well rehearsed at this point, requiring little additional preparation.
- Dress as a professional; ties and white coats preferred.
- Project from the diaphragm and speak slowly, enunciating clearly but casually and with confidence. Allow for pauses at times when you wish important points to be considered; use inflection judiciously for emphasis
- Most prefer to stand behind the podium; if this is uncomfortable for you, you may stand in front, or just to the side podium, but not on the right side of the screen as the audience sees you, as this makes some in the audience uncomfortable.
- Do not sway or dance around; limit your body movements as much as possible-they are distracting.
- Limit your hand/arm gestures; use them for emphasis in directing attention only when necessary.
- Practice your pointing; exactly what will be pointed to and when?
- If using a laser pointer, use it judiciously and with slow, precise movements-nothing is more annoying than a laser dot zig-zagging around the slide. Turn it off and leave your hand at your side (or resting on the podium) when you don't need to point.
- Let the Audience Know You Are Finished
- Come to a point of closure (even if the case has not been solved) and then invite questions.
- After questions, take your time with the acknowledgements and make sure names are correctly spelled and pronounced.