BACKGROUND: Lectures or presentations are frequently used for teaching large groups.
AIM: We investigated if a structured presentation with an explicit outline enables better recall of the content immediately and 2 weeks after the event, compared to a presentation without an explicit outline.
METHODS: Twenty-seven medical students were randomized to receive a presentation with (experimental) and without (control) an outline. The experimental presentation initially delivered the key message with an outline made of four headline statements, followed by facts and examples and ended with repetition of the key message and headline statements. The control presentation delivered all the same facts and examples sequentially, concluding with the key message. Recall immediately and 2 weeks after the presentation was rated by two blinded assessors.
RESULTS: Immediately after the presentation, the mean scores were similar in the two groups (9.8, SD 2.6 vs. 9.0, SD 2.1). After 2 weeks, the experimental group achieved a higher mean score than control (7.0, SD 2.1 vs. 5.2, SD 1.9; p=0.02).
CONCLUSION: A presentation with a structured outline enables the audience to recall the content better than that without an outline, a fortnight after presentation.