tipology:letter

numero rivista e pagine: HSR Proceedings in Intensive Care and Cardiovascular Anesthesia 2010; 2(2): 139-141
PDF version

Leave nothing to change: using English to navigate your presentation

Authors: M. John*

Professor of Applied English, Faculty of Medicine, UniversitÓ Vita-Salute San Raffaele Milan, Italy

Corresponding author: * Corresponding author:
Prof. Michael John
UniversitÓ Vita-Salute San Raffaele, Milan, Italy
Via Olgettina 48 - 20132 Milan, Italy
E-mail: michael.john@hsr.it

I have already spoken about the need to prepare attractive slides to transmit your discoveries, procedures and statistics during an oral presentation at a peer-to-peer congress. I have also already mentioned the fact that during your presentation you should not hold notes in your hand and simply read a written text to your audience. This would be terribly boring for them and would not reflect positively upon your abilities as a speaker.
Remember, you do not need notes in any case as all of your relevant data should be present in the concise and clear bullet points written in your slides, which you then expand upon and develop during your talk. Let’s be honest, you should know what you are talking about as far as your medical specialty is concerned.
However, you might have a few more problems with the English language. Maybe you are not a native speaker. Maybe your English is not fluent. Maybe you are convinced that your English is the worst on the planet! This will make you nervous when you have to speak in a language that is not your own to describe complex, maybe even controversial, procedures and theories.
We are therefore going to have a look at some phrases that will help you get through the presentation without too many problems. You have probably ‘borrowed’ words, phrases and structures already when you have written papers. There is nothing wrong with that. So, let’s start.

1. The polite opening
I am honored to speak here today...
Thank you so much for inviting me to speak...

2. The topic and aim of the presentation
The aim of my presentation is...
My talk mainly deals with...

3. The structure of the presentation
First of all, I’ll give you an overview of our procedure...
Then, I’d like to touch on...
Following this, we’ll be examining...
Finally, we’ll take a closer look at...

4. Navigating forward
So, after my introduction let’s take a look at...
Now this brings me to a very interesting point...
I’d like to proceed with some examples of...

5. Branching out
I want to take a moment to talk about...
Another thing we cannot ignore concerning this topic is...

6. Returning to the main theme
I’d like now to return to the main theme of my presentation...
Now let’s go back to the central theme of my talk...

7. In conclusion
Finally, I want to mention...
My presentation is drawing to its close...
We might therefore conclude that...

8. Describing your slides
As you can see in this slide...
What we are looking at here is...
In this slide, I want to draw your attention to...
In the upper/lower part of the image you can see...
To illustrate my point I’d like you to focus on this graphic...

9. Summarizing
To sum up...
In summary, what I have tried to show you is...
Taking all of these factors into account...

10. The take-home message
The bottom line of our study is...
What I want you to remember is...

11. Thanks and closure
Thank you for your attention...
Thanks for listening...

Of course, what comes next is often considered the most difficult, although in my opinion it is also the most fruitful, part of any presentation: ‘What questions do you have?
More about that next time!

 

Questions from the readers

1. Is it better to use the present tense or the past tense when writing a paper?

The main tense used in a biomedical paper is the simple past The word ‘simple’ is important as compound tenses, such as the present perfect, should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.
However, the simple present is also used as you can see below.
In the Introduction you should use the present tense to tell your readers what the paper is about. Use the simple past to describe background information and to give an overview of your methods.
The Methods should be written in the simple past tense.
The simple past should also be used in the The Discussion uses the simple present to put your results and conclusions into context, but you will also use the simple past tense at times when you are referring to previous work in the field.

2. How is the medical history interview (anamnesis) carried out in English?

A doctor typically asks questions to obtain the following information about the patient:
1. Identification and demographics: name, age, height, weight
2. The “chief complaint (CC)” - the major health problem or concern, and its time course (e.g. chest pain for past 4 hours)
3. History of present illness (HPI) - details about the complaints, enumerated in the CC
4. Past Medical History (PMH) (including major illnesses, any previous surgery/operations, any current ongo-ing illness, e.g. diabetes)
5. Review of systems (ROS) Systematic questioning about different organ systems
6. Family diseases - especially those relevant to the patient’s chief complaint
7. Childhood diseases - this is very important in pediatrics
8. Social history (medicine) - including living arrangements, occupation, marital status, number of children, drug use (including tobacco, alcohol, other recreational drug use), recent foreign travel, and exposure to envi-ronmental pathogens       through recreational activities or pets
9. Regular and acute medications (including those prescribed by doctors, and others obtained over-the-counter or alternative medicine)
10. Allergies - to medications, food, latex, and other environmental factors. Sexual history, obstetric/gynecological history etc.*
(* Wikipedia)

For more detailed information visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medical_history

 

'This is the sixth of a series of articles on this topic. Send any questions to michael.john@hsr.it who will answer them as part of this column'