CME Presentation Tips

Use these Essentia Health Continuing Medical Education Presentation Tips based on education and communication best practices and AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ requirements to plan and facilitate effective presentations.

Know Your Audience

Who are they? Why are they here? What keeps them up at night? How can you help solve their problem? What do you want them to do differently after your presentation?

“They didn’t come to your presentation to see you. They came to find out what you can do for them. Success means giving them a reason for taking their time, providing content that resonates, and ensuring it’s clear what they are to do.” - Nancy Duarte

Presentation Recommendations

  • Start the presentation by engaging learners with a story about your experience(s) with the topic, sharing a specific case, relaying interesting statistics, or asking a question to get them thinking about their own experiences. Adults learn best when convinced of the need for knowing the information.
  • Inform learners of objectives. Include the learning objectives on a slide at the beginning of the presentation. Tell learners what they will know or be able to do with the knowledge acquired during the presentation.
  • Present the content, including examples. Adults will learn more effectively when new knowledge, skills, attitudes and values are presented in the context of their application to real life situations. Lectures should be relevant to what learners need to cope with in their daily practice. Use the Session Planning Form to plan the content of the presentation.
  • Summarize the main points of the presentation. This is your “take home message” for learners. In addition, asking your learners to do something with the information will help them retain it longer.

Presentation Slides - Formatting Basics

Background Color

A white or light-colored slide background with black or dark-colored text is recommended due to the nature of the majority of our meeting rooms. A simple background is best! Use a consistent background throughout the presentation.

Font Size

Use easy to read font like Arial or Calibri. Use consistent size font throughout the presentation. 32+ point font for titles, 24+ point font for text, and 12+ point fonts for citations.

Words per Slide

Remember that PowerPoint is a presentation, not documentation. Text is a reference that should include essential facts and information. Too much text on a slide detracts from the spoken message since it is difficult to listen, read and understand at the same time.


Use copyright-free pictures, graphics, images, videos as well as charts, graphs or other visual displays of data. Include a caption that states the importance of the graphic.

Essentia Health employees can utilize ClinicalKey, Clinical Key for Nursing, UpToDate, and VisualDx, all available on the Library Services home page from The Source.


Cite author, source and date on every slide where a quote, practice recommendation, data, table or image is used that was not created by you. If the material is copyrighted, you will need to secure permission to use it prior to your presentation.

List all citations in a final reference slide, with full reference information: author(s), date, title, source, publisher, volume, and page number.

Commercial Bias and Trade Names

Presentations must comply with Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) requirements for ensuring independence in CME activities. A commercial interest is defined as any entity producing, marketing, re-selling, or distributing health care goods or services consumed by, or used on patients. The ACCME does not consider providers of clinical service directly to patients to be commercial interests - unless the provider of clinical service is owned, or controlled by, an ACCME-defined commercial interest.

  • Content must promote improvements or quality in healthcare, not a specific product or commercial interest.
  • No advertisements, product promotion, corporate logo, trade name or product-group message of an ACCME-defined commercial interest.
  • Use generic names instead of trade names. If trade names are used, the presentation must include trade names from multiple companies, to create a balanced view.

Strategies for Increasing Learner Engagement

  • Keep your audience engaged by asking questions throughout the presentation. An audience response system is available in some locations.
  • Engage the remote audience participating via video-conference.
  • Handouts can be printed if you have important information to share that is difficult to depict on a slide.

Contact Us

If you have any questions or need assistance with presentation development/formatting, contact the CME Office at 218.786.4764 or [email protected]


  1. ACCME Standards for Commercial Support
  2. Russell, Sally S. MN, CMSRN, CPP, An Overview of Adult Learning Processes. Urol Nurs. 2006; 26(5):349- 352, 370.
  3. Dirksen, Julie. Design for How People Learn. 2012.
  4. Duarte, Nancy. Slide:ology. The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations. 2008.
  5. Palis, Ana, and Peter Quiros. Adult Learning Principles and Presentation Pearls. Middle East Afr J Ophthalmol. 2014 Apr-Jun; 21(2): 114–122. doi: 10.4103/0974-9233.129748
  6. Reynolds, Garr. Presentation Zen.

Rev. 7/12/2016


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