I think that inclusion of personal or family photographs in professional presentations like grand rounds talks or research seminars points the needle away from goodness.  Such presentations provide an opportunity to showcase your work and sell yourself as an expert and should be done professionally.  Introductions, transitions, and conclusions should reflect the logic of the presentation and not be animated by anything irrelevant, like a beach picture from your recent family vacation or a snapshot of your pet, even if it is the most awesome greyhound alive.  Those types of images rarely can be used to illustrate a point in the talk and thus interrupt the flow of the presentation.

Most importantly, showing such pictures raises questions about professionalism.  Imagine professionals in other fields showing personal or family photographs in important business presentations.  For example, what would you think of an architect presenting plans for a new art museum to the city council or an attorney arguing a complex case about intellectual property before a jury with a slide deck interspersed with personal or family photographs?  Probably not much.  I can’t imagine any professional showing such images in a professional context, and I think the work we do in biomedicine is every bit as important.  So leave your personal or family photographs where they belong – framed on your desk, as wallpaper on your iPhone, or stuffed in that box under your bed filled with things to get to when you have the time – but not in your professional presentations.

Terry S. Dermody, MD

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