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The Clinical Inquiry Process Resource Guide

The goal of this guide is to provide nurses a resource to understand and carryout the steps of performing an evidence-based practice (EBP) project.


Aside from publishing, the other effective way to disseminate the results of the project/research is by presenting it to an audience.  Sometimes that audience will be by presenting a poster but other times the presentation may be podium presentation at a conference.  In order to give an effective presentation, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.  

The best thing you can above all else is practice, practice, practice.  The more you talk in front of groups, the more comfortable you will be in giving a presentation.  

Understand the Requirement & Make Up of the Conference

  • Time Allocated:  How much time is allocated to speak?  Whether it is a poster or podium presentation, the length of time varies.  The time allotted is important to understand because it will influence what is included in a presentation.

    • Podium:  Range from 15 to 60 minutes

      • Types of Podium Presentations

        1.  Roundtable discussion: small group discussion involving several participants

        2. Breakout/concurrent session: a shorter period of time (30 min – 45 min), with a small group of people 

        3. Panel: a forum where several presentations are shared.

        4. Keynote address: speech that presents important topics, issues, policies, etc.  (VUMC, 2016)

    • Poster: Typically the time allocated is 60 minutes.  Short presentation given to those who visit the poster.

  • Who is Attending the Conference? (Audience):  The make-up of the conference will also influence how the presentation is structured as the knowledge level and interests of individuals will vary.   

    • Audience:  Nurse Researchers, Clinical Nurses, Interdisciplinary/Multidisciplinary, Non-Healthcare Individuals, etc.

    • Language:  Keep in mind that every discipline has a vocabulary that is unique to their discipline.  This means that depending on the audience the way a concept or idea is explained may need to be adjusted in order to assist the audience in gaining a better understanding. 

    • Points Stressed:  Every group have different interests and so different aspects of your topic/project may be of more interest to different audiences than others.  Depending on the audience different points should be stressed in order to keep the interests of the audience and meet their needs.  (Sawatzky, 2011)

  • Organize  Your Presentation

    • Determine The Purpose or Focus of the Presentation:  When it comes to an effective presentation, the key is to have a clear message and to try not make too many points.  Keep the number of points down to just 3 points or less, any more than that and the audience is less likely to remember them and could take away from your presentation.  

    • Consider the type of presentation when Determining How to Present

      • Be aware that however you decide to the material that it is one that you are comfortable and fits the way you are comfortable.  All people have preferences when it comes to the style with which one presents. 

      • PowerPoint Slides – would be appropriate for a keynote address or breakout session.

      • Handouts – might be helpful for a roundtable or panel discussion.

               (Happell, 2009; VUMC, 2016)

  • Prepare to Speak for Less Time than Allotted: Many times speakers prepare to speak for the entire time they are given, but seldom get the chance to finish or effectively make their point.  The advantage to keeping your presentation more brief are:

    • Main Messages/Points are Not Lost:  Because the talk will not cover as much, the main message(s) can be stressed and full explained. 

    • Leave More Time for Questions:  This can valuable because it allows the speaker to answer the questions that the audience has and allows for the points of most interest to the audience can be clarified. (Bourne, 2007)

  • Create an Outline / Script  - Need to Have a Logical Flow

    • Think of the presentation as a story.  There should be a clear beginning, middle, and end. In order for a presentation to be effective, it should be something that is easy to follow with the points made clearly.

    • The Rule of Thirds:  A good way to break down your presentation is to organize it into three parts.  Think of each part having a

      • Three Parts:

        1. Introduction:  Set the Stage & Create Interest. 

        2. Body:  Tells the story of the project/research and should include the main points of the presentation.

        3. Conclusion:  Deliver the take home message that you want the audience to come away with. 

                                             (Bourne, 2007; Sawatzky, 2011)

Presenting Your Work

  • Bring a Backup:  While you may send a copy of the presentation to conference organizers beforehand, it is always a good policy to bring an electronic & print copy. 

  • Arrive Early:  In order to stave off being nervous, it is best to arrive early as it will allow you to address any issues and give one the chance to review their notes, etc.

  • Treat Presentation as a Conversation  & Don’t Read to Your Audience

    • Do not memorize your presentation, but using the talking points you have created to present in a more conversational style, which will be more engaging and interesting.

    • Make eye contact with the audience and look around the room

    • Maintain a professional stance, with your hands out of pockets and arms relaxed.

    • If possible, it does not hurt to move from behind the podium.

  • End on Time

    • By ending on time, you are showing respect for your audience and others who may be speaking during your session.

(Rossiter & Stone, 2015; Sawatzky, 2011; VUMC, 2016)


Bourne, P. E. (2007). Ten simple rules for making good oral presentations. PLoS Comput Biol, 3(4), e77.

Happell, B. (2009). Presenting with precision: Preparing and delivering a polished conference presentation. Nurse Researcher, 16(3), 45-56 12p. Retrieved from,url,cookie,uid&db=ccm&AN=105522099&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Rossiter, R. C., & Stone, T. E. (2015). Getting the message across: Delivering a quality conference presentation. Nursing & Health Sciences, 17(2), 145-147 3p. doi:10.1111/nhs.12204

Sawatzky, J. V. (2011). My abstract was accepted--now what? A guide to effective conference presentations. Canadian Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, 21(2), 37-41 5p. Retrieved from,url,cookie,uid&db=ccm&AN=104653702&site=ehost-live&scope=site

 Vanderbilt Medical Center: Evidence-Based Practice and Nursing Research Center.(2016) Part 1: How to construct a podium    presentation using power point.        How%20to%20construct%20podium%20presentation.pdf

Vanderbilt Medical Center: Evidence-Based Practice and Nursing Research Center.(2016) Part 2: Podium presentation skills.