Communicating Practice Scholarship Through Oral Presentation





Communicating research through oral presentations in the 21st century may look different from what you have experienced in the past. The rapid surge of technology keeps us on a constant learning curve as to best practices for delivering content and engaging audiences, whether in a classroom, conference, or workplace setting. Knowledge translation of research findings is a key step in reducing the research-practice gap (Curtis et al., 2016). Clearly and concisely communicating information about a completed study or a study in progress is vital to the growth of the profession’s body of evidence. As the profession continues to increase the numbers of doctorally prepared nurses (American Association of Colleges of Nursing [AACN], 2017), it will be imperative for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to disseminate research findings to transform patient care. Numerous opportunities to share research exist, including oral presentations in the academic, clinical, and community settings. Common venues include events sponsored by an organization, poster or podium session at conferences, webinars, podcasts, and traditional media. The growing availability of technology such as webcasting, broadcasting, and podcasting has led to the expedited dissemination of information, thereby reaching a larger and varied audience quickly.


Initial Planning

Ideally, dissemination of a study’s findings is considered during the planning phase of the study. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) provides a guideline for the planning of the dissemination of research results ( This guideline may assist researchers to think through their dissemination plans and suggests appropriate modes and venues for sharing findings early in the research process. An initial step is to identify opportunities to present at research, clinical, or educational conferences. Additional opportunities may arise in your work setting to present study findings with a focus on quality improvement and informing best practices. These presentations are typically brief, concise, and directed toward policy changes within an institution. Conference sponsors solicit presenters by announcing a call for papers or call for abstracts. Reviewing the conference focus to 384determine whether your study fits the focus of the conference is crucial. An abstract topic that is timely, congruent with conference objectives, and aligned with the interests of the anticipated target audience will have a greater likelihood of being accepted for presentation. After determining that your study is a good fit, carefully review the detailed requirements for submitting an abstract as outlined in the conference brochure or online.


Abstracts of completed research usually are considered for oral or poster presentations. Research in-progress is considered only for a poster session. The abstract, typically 150 to 300 words in length, is used by reviewers to determine the worthiness of a study. Thus, it is imperative that submission guidelines are followed precisely. Most guidelines for research abstracts require the inclusion of these major components of the study (Grove et al., 2015):

  1. Titles—Should include key variables, participants, and setting

  2. Purpose of the study

  3. Brief description of sample—Number of subjects and distinct characteristics such as diagnosis, age range, and gender

  4. Methods—Design, setting, data collection procedures, instruments including reliability and validity information

  5. Findings—Summary of data and statistically significant results, level of significance

  6. Conclusions—Summary of the results in relation to the purpose of the study and meaning of the data

In addition, an organization may require a brief author biography.

Criteria for Evaluating Abstracts

Criteria used to evaluate abstracts may include originality, scientific merit, clinical relevance, soundness of findings, overall quality, relevance to conference theme and objectives, and clarity. It is important to keep the organization’s evaluative criteria in mind when writing the abstract.

Acceptance of the Abstract and Preparing for Oral or Poster Presentations

Acceptance of an abstract for either oral or poster presentation triggers the need to start preparing for a successful event. The letter of acceptance usually includes presentation guidelines. Although organizations’ guidelines vary, most paper presentations are scheduled for 20 minutes with 15 minutes for content delivery and 5 minutes for questions. Poster presentations may occur over several days with designated times when presenters need to be at the poster to interact with conference participants.

Identifying the Content

Develop a detailed outline to serve as a roadmap when you write your script to practice the presentation. Include the key aspects of the study that were included in the abstract you submitted. Remember your time frame. It is important to “get to the punch line” (findings and implications for practice) and not spend too much time on the literature review. A sentence or two to set up the problem and purpose of the study is sufficient for most audiences.

385Developing Visual Aids

An important aspect of your preparation is determining the audiovisual aids you will use to convey your information. Most conference presentations call for the use of slides that often are made available to participants before your presentation either online, on a USB drive, or through a conference mobile app. Less commonly, presenters may opt to distribute hard copies of their slides as a handout at the beginning of the presentation.

The Purpose of Slides

Slides enhance the presentation with a visual of your content. As you develop your presentation, determine the types and number of slides that will be used—word, pictorial, or a combination. There are numerous computer software programs (e.g., Harvard Graphics, PowerPoint, Prezi, or Keynote) that can be used for making slides. The most commonly used software at conferences is PowerPoint. Users of iPads are advised to check with the venue to see whether alternate presentation software such as Keynote will be supported.

Use of Color

Color combinations can be previewed before producing the slide. Whether to use a dark background with light type or a light background with dark type is debated (Blome et al., 2017). Nonetheless, color choice is vital for readability. For example, light pink text on a light-blue background is difficult to read. Combinations with higher contrast improve readability. According to Tomita (2017), color can have a powerful influence on the perception and atmosphere of a poster. Generally, analogous colors (those found next to each other on a color wheel) result in a warm, calm and harmonious appearance while complementary colors appear bold, striking, and sharp. Whatever colors you choose, a simple color scheme will be more appealing according to Berg and Hicks (2017).

Considerations for Developing Slides on a Computer

Developing slides on a computer allows easy preview and reordering of the slides. According to Wellstead et al. (2017), psychological analysis of PowerPoint presentations has demonstrated that people can only hold four concepts or topics of information at any one time. Therefore, limiting the detail on slides is important. One option is to limit the words to five or fewer in the title, on each line and in the number of lines per slide. There is debate about exactly which size font is best, but up to 32 points and no less than 24 points are commonly recommended according to Blome et al. (2017). In general, use a simple template, and select an easy to read font type such as Arial or Times consistently.

Many presenters are now creating multimedia presentations that include animation, audio, and video within slides to capture the audience’s attention or to emphasize a point within the slide. If you are new to PowerPoint, or are having difficulty creating slides, there are many step-by-step guides available online.

Tools for Developing Charts and Graphics

There are numerous software tools that can help the presenter translate their data and make it into easy to understand and attractive charts, maps, graphs and other visualizations. Excel and Google Charts are perhaps the most commonly used chart and graphing softwares. If you are seeking to create more advanced graphics you can look to other software tools. The following software tools may be helpful in developing charts and graphs: D3. j. from Data-Driven Documents is available at; Fusion Charts at, and Tableau at (Chen, 2017).

386Saving the Presentation

Slide presentations can be saved on a USB flash drive and easily transported. Experienced presenters recommend saving more than one copy of the file to be safe. Sending the presentation file to yourself via email or uploading it to a file hosting service such as Dropbox are other means of retrieving a file if the unexpected happens.


Despite the anxiety some people feel when speaking publicly, the experience can be rewarding and exciting. Public speaking, like any skill, requires preparation. One suggestion is to conduct a practice run by presenting to colleagues and responding to their questions (Wellstead et al., 2017). This is a good time to remind yourself that your overarching goal is to deliver valuable and useful information to your audience. According to Maxey and O’Connor (2013), your audience will value your presentation more if they are able to link your content to their practice. There are several websites that provide a good overview of presentation skills. Examples of both good public speaking skills and, frankly, terrible public speaking skills abound on YouTube ( A tutorial to aid in the development of presentation skills is available at


Varying the presentation will make it much more memorable and interesting according to Kaltenbach and Soetikno (2016); this can be achieved by varying type of evidence (quantitative and qualitative), types of visuals, as well as the presenter’s gestures and voice, volume, and tone. Furthermore, they recommend using varying types of evidence—qualitative information to develop a story line and quantitative information to back it up.

Relevance, Relatability, and the Power of Emotion

Kaltenbach and Soetikno (2016) also describe how to make data more impactful by making it more relevant and relatable to viewer’s experience. They give the example “that stating 1 in 20 U.S. adults will develop colorectal cancer” is more relatable than stating “the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is 6%” (p. 1059). They also note the importance of not simply reciting or reading slides which dulls the material and the audience. The best presenters speak naturally with expression, using the slides to reinforce the story rather than carry the story. Showing “enthusiasm, excitement or energy” is recommended by many presentation experts (Blome et al., 2017). Sometimes an interesting or humorous anecdote related to the conference location or your content serves to relax both you and the audience.


According to Lawrence and Paige (2016), storytelling is an ancient and powerful method for communicating and teaching. Storytelling is a powerful tool to engage your audience by letting them relate personal experiences to the information you are disseminating. Timbral (2017), in a discussion of student learning, explains how storytelling can help those without a specific or comparable experience to “imagine themselves applying the knowledge and skills they learn in a class.” Urstad et al. (2018) describe how storytelling in a clinical classroom triggered student engagement and a deeper understanding of the material.

387Managing Audience Engagement

We are accustomed to the rapid pace of information we receive daily via electronic means. Audience participants can easily become inattentive or distracted while listening to an oral presentation. Managing audience engagement is a useful skill when presenting to both large and small audiences. Using audience response systems such as Poll Everywhere during a PowerPoint presentation is one way to engage audience members. Participants are able to respond to questions in real time utilizing their mobile phones (iPhone or Android). This simple technology allows a presenter to assess the audience’s interest, knowledge, biases, and specific areas of curiosity. Participants can respond individually or the presenter can request that participants work in pairs or groups to respond to queries. Audience responses are reflected in graphs or charts within your presentation and feedback can be shared with participants almost immediately. One advantage to using polling software is that they allow anonymous answering which may encourage participation. Poll questions require prior planning and setup. The template for inserting polling questions into a presentation is easy to use and fairly intuitive. More information can be found at

Tips for Last Minute Preparations Before the Presentation

Review your notes on the day of your presentation. Arrive early to the room where you are scheduled to present so that you can meet the moderator and any fellow speakers. This gives you time to acquaint yourself with the podium and audiovisual setup and to practice advancing and backing up slides. As you begin your presentation, take time to briefly introduce yourself to the audience. This helps establish your credibility with the participants. Linking your presentation or findings to the conference theme or to a key concept presented at an earlier session promotes continuity and relatability while establishing context for the participants. When presenting after lunch, late in the afternoon or evening, or at the end of a conference be aware of the audience’s energy level. Beginning your presentation with an entertaining opening, humor, picture, or other strategies such as group activities could help to maintain the audience’s attention. A systematic review of expert opinion articles by Blome et al. (2017) identified the five most frequent recommendations for what makes an effective presentation:

Keep slides simple;

Adjust the talk to the audience;


Do not read the talk from slides or manuscript;

Make eye contact.

Exhibit 20.1 provides a summary of advice on strategies for presenting an engaging presentation.


Poster presentations have distinct advantages over oral presentations or publications when disseminating research. By conducting a poster presentation, research findings are communicated to participants in an informal way. The informal exchange of ideas between the author and the participant promotes immediate feedback to the author, which may be useful in future presentations, preparation of manuscripts, clarification of unclear or confusing aspects of the study, and networking. Editors of nursing journals often solicit manuscripts after viewing posters and talking to the presenter.

388EXHIBIT 20.1


  • Know your audience. Speak their language and present your material in a way that is meaningful to them.
  • Organize your thoughts.
  • Use audiovisual aids.
  • Use charts and graphs—most often, research findings can best be displayed with the use of tables, charts, graphs, figures, and so on. These tools help to better organize the findings for the audience.
  • Speak to the audience and maintain eye contact.
  • Watch your pace; nervousness increases speech rate.
  • Remember to breathe.
  • Rehearse your presentation and know the time it takes so that you can fit the schedule.
  • Dress appropriately—if you are doing a presentation during working hours on-site at your organization, everyday work clothes may be appropriate. In other instances, when presenting off-site, business clothing is the appropriate attire.
  • Elicit audience participation by asking questions or presenting a concept, idea, or finding, and then ask: “What does this mean to you?” or “What do you think about this study result?”
  • Vary your tone of voice.
  • Allow time for questions. The nature of research stimulates inquiry, so people will likely have questions.
  • Always repeat the question so that everyone can hear it.
  • Use tact in responding to criticism to your research and keep an open mind.
  • Recognize people who have made significant contributions to the research.
  • Thank the audience and let them know where you may be reached by email or phone. Provide your business card for those who wish to follow up with you.

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Oct 17, 2021 | Posted by in NURSING | Comments Off on Communicating Practice Scholarship Through Oral Presentation

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