The Six Deadly Sins of EMS Continuing Education Presentations

If you are presenting EMS education at a conference please avoid the six following deadly sins.

Reading power point slides to the audience. No presenter should do this. Ever. If I believed in hell I would hope that there is a special place in the hottest part of it for presenters who do this. EMS is taught to the 10th grade level which means we can all read.

Having slides that suck. See figure one for an example. Few things in this world truly offend in the way a presentation that uses comic sans as a default font does. Additionally the use of WordArt should be kept to a minimum. When a presentation has more than a few slides using Microsoft WordArt there are two possibilities; the slides have not been updated since 2003 or the presenter has the kind of bad taste where they think Olive Garden is a really fancy restaurant (1).

(figure 1) If your slides look like this, you need to read this article.

Presenters who don’t admit when they don’t know something. Once the audience knows you are saying bullshit, it opens the door for them to doubt everything you are telling them and rapport with the audience quickly begins to evaporate. While it is hard to say “I don’t know” to an audience, it is the right thing to do.

Boring topics. While some folks might benefit from a review of the causes of shortness of breath in an adult or a 75 minute presentation on heart failure for many people it is painfully boring. People should go to EMS conferences to learn new things, to keep abreast of changes that are happening in the industry, to question conventional thinking and practices or to gain a new outlook on something. Sessions should not be a paramedic refresher class. Presentations should have a message to them that the presenter is sharing.

Phoning it in. A presentation that has been done so many times that the presenter is just following the script. Attendees want the speaker to engage them; they want to be talked with not talked to. As an audience member I want to know that the presenter is passionate about their topic. I need them to be excited about their topic.

Doing 75 – 90 minute slots (2). Some topics merit this length of time for a session, many do not. By then end of a 90 minute presentation I just want the presenter to stop talking. My legs hurt and my butt is numb I am wondering about how long the lines are going to be for the bathroom, I am thinking the candy in the vendor expo and why has nobody made a gluten-free Twix bar yet. I am sending telepathic waves to the presenter, “please stop talking.” I am vowing that I will never come to another EMS conference again. My stream of consciousness begins to drift further. Why are these chairs so gad damn close to each other anyway? Is my leg touching their leg, should I pretend not to notice? Could I develop a DVT in my legs in 90 minutes? How long until lunch. Please do not let it be pulled pork for lunch. Why are these people wearing satin jackets with their agency on them in a conference? Oh Jesus, is that the crazy guy we fired sitting three rows up from me?


Those are my suggestions for improving the EMS CE and conference experience. Please share any that you might have.

1. Not that is a terrible place to eat, it just isn’t that great either.
2. May not be avoidable at some conferences

2 thoughts on “The Six Deadly Sins of EMS Continuing Education Presentations

  1. Agreed and agreed again. Trouble is my 60 minute topic gets picked up for the 90 minute slot at the conference and my 8 hour topic gets 60 minute slot. Then there are those who pay stipends, cover only travel and hotel, then others that cover nothing but offer the equivalent of 1 night hotel. As a presenter I want you at the end wanting me to keep going, go out and learn more on my topics and, best of all, prove me wrong on something.

    Liked by 1 person

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