Redo Data

If there’s one thing that bothers me most in presentations, it’s this: the insertion of data tables into slides.  Often times you’ll see snapshots of random tables taken from an article PDF filled with rows of numbers, p-values, and confidence intervals, occasionally accompanied by the quote, “As you can clearly see from the data.”

The reality of this as an audience member is…


Don’t do this. Please. Don’t just take screenshots of PDFs and put red boxes around them and expect your audience to understand what you mean. Instead, try to redo the data in an aesthetically pleasing and simplistic way so that the audience can appreciate your message. If you feel like your audience really needs to see the raw data, try using a handout, sending them an email, or putting up an accompanying blogpost so that they can look at it in a more appropriate context.

Below is an example of how instead of inserting a table into a presentation the information was redone:

The above image is a slide that shows the effectiveness of glucagon for esophageal foreign bodies.  The text is too small, and there is lots of information on this slide that is irrelevant. Instead a better way to present the pertinent information is to break it into several slides…

The first slide sets the stage by stating the essential components of the original table; There are 8 trials since 1983 that evaluated the effectiveness of glucagon for esophageal foreign bodies.

The next slide states that if we digest these trials a little bit more that only 3 out of these 8 trials are placebo controlled studies.  There are just over 400 patients in these three trials.

When evaluating these three trials there is no statistical or clinically relevant difference in effectiveness of glucagon relieving esophageal obstruction.

The final slide would state the essential bottom line, which is, that glucagon is no better than placebo in relieving esophageal obstruction based on best available evidence.

Post Peer Reviewed By: Anand Swaminathan (Twitter: @EMSwami)

Cite this article as: Salim Rezaie, "Redo Data", REBEL EM blog, July 6, 2017. Available at:

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