Preparing an Oral Report
Follow these steps to put together and deliver a first-rate presentation.
Step 1. Research the Facts
Gather information about the subject of your oral report. List the facts and interesting
information from your reading, taking notes accurately. Remember that relevant details and
vivid descriptions will make your oral report more interesting, as will visual aids such as maps,
charts, and pictures.
Step 2. Organize Your Information
Organize your oral report in three parts.
How will you introduce your report? What will be your first line? Write a short introduction
that briefly explains what your report will cover.
Organize the main points of your report. They should follow a logical order. Be sure that:
all your information is accurate;
you have included information from your research to support your main points;
you use details and descriptive sentences to make your report interesting.
Write a short conclusion. You can use the conclusion to:
wrap up and restate your main points;
draw upon your main points to formulate a personal opinion concerning the topic of your
Step 3. Practice Giving the Oral Report
Practice presenting your oral report with a friend or family member. If no one is available, try
practicing in front of a mirror. Keep the following points in mind when you give your report.
• Hold your body upright and face your audience.
• Speak clearly and deliberately—you want everyone to hear what you have learned.
• Refer to your notes only when necessary.
Step 4. Make A Final Copy of Your Report Notes
Use your notes to make a final outline of your report and put it on one index card or half-sheet
of paper. Try to use this card alone when giving your report. Refer to the rest of your notes only
if absolutely necessary.
In many ways, planning an oral report is similar to planning a written report.
- Choose a subject that is interesting to you. What do you care about? What would you like to learn more about? Follow your interests, and you’ll find your topic.
- Be clear about your purpose. Do you want to persuade your audience? Inform them about a topic? Or just tell an entertaining story?
An oral report also has the same three basic parts as a written report.
- The introduction should “hook” your audience. Catch their interest with a question, a dramatic tale or a personal experience that relates to your topic.
- The body is the main part of your report, and will use most of your time. Make an outline of the body so that you can share information in an organized way.
- The conclusion is the time to summarize and get across your most important point. What do you want the audience to remember?
It’s important to really know your subject and be well organized. If you know your material well, you will be confident and able to answer questions. If your report is well organized, the audience will find it informative and easy to follow.
Think about your audience. If you were listening to a report on your subject, what would you want to know? Too much information can seem overwhelming, and too little can be confusing. Organize your outline around your key points, and focus on getting them across.
Remember—enthusiasm is contagious! If you’re interested in your subject, the audience will be interested, too.
Practicing your report is a key to success. At first, some people find it helpful to go through the report alone. You might practice in front of a mirror or in front of your stuffed animals. Then, try out your report in front of a practice audience-friends or family. Ask your practice audience:
- Could you follow my presentation?
- Did I seem knowledgeable about my subject?
- Was I speaking clearly? Could you hear me? Did I speak too fast or too slow?
If you are using visual aids, such as posters or overhead transparencies, practice using them while you rehearse. Also, you might want to time yourself to see how long it actually takes. The time will probably go by faster than you expect.
- Stand up straight. Hold your upper body straight, but not stiff, and keep your chin up. Try not to distract your audience by shifting around or fidgeting.
- Make eye contact. You will seem more sure of yourself, and the audience will listen better, if you make eye contact during your report.
- Use gestures. Your body language can help you make your points and keep the audience interested. Lean forward at key moments, and use your hands and arms for emphasis.
- Use your voice effectively. Vary your tone and speak clearly. If you’re nervous, you might speak too fast. If you find yourself hurrying, take a breath and try to slow it down.
Almost everyone is nervous when speaking before a group. Many people say public speaking is their Number 1 fear. Being well prepared is the best way to prevent nerves from getting the better of you. Also, try breathing deeply before you begin your report, and remember to breathe during the report. Being nervous isn’t all bad-it can help to keep you on your toes!
One last thing
Have you prepared and practiced your report? Then go get ’em! Remember: you know your stuff, and your report is interesting and important.
- The manuscript method is a form of speech delivery that involves speaking from text. With this method, a speaker will write out her speech word for word and practice how she will deliver the speech. A disadvantage of this method is a person may sound too practiced or stiff. To avoid sounding rehearsed, use eye contact, facial expressions and vocal variety to engage the audience. Use frequent glances at highlighted key points instead of reading the speech word for word.
- The memorization method is a form of speech delivery that involves fully memorizing a speech before delivering it. This method of delivery allows a speaker to move around the stage or platform and maintain eye contact with the audience without relying on a script or notes. For speakers who deliver their speeches by memorization, add inflection to the voice and keep notes nearby to avoid forgetting an important key point.
- The impromptu method is a form of speech delivery that involves speaking from notes. This method is ideal for a speaker needing to deliver a short speech with little preparation time. With the impromptu method, a speaker will organize his speech in outline form, create notes with the key points of the presentation and deliver the speech from the notes. This method allows a speaker to deliver a speech in a natural manner while maintaining eye contact and engaging an audience.
- The extemporaneous method is a form of speech delivery that involves combining the manuscript, memorization and impromptu methods to create a carefully prepared and planned speech. For this method, a speaker will organize a speech with an outline, write down the speech word for word and practice the delivery. A speaker may highlight key points in the speech to quote verbatim and memorize other portions of the speech to speak in a more conversational tone. The extemporaneous method of delivery allows a speaker to engage an audience and adapt to any speaking situation.
4 methods of delivering oral report?
1. Speaking from memory
2. Speaking from notes
3. Speaking from text
4. Using a combination of methods
Using PowerPoint in Oral Presentations
Visual aids are an important element of a good oral presentation. Using visuals can add interest to your presentation and help you communicate your ideas.
You can use PowerPoint software to produce overheads or to make a computer-based presentation. If you use it well, PowerPoint allows you to present colourful, interesting visuals and manage and combine a range of multimedia information.
Visual aids can:
- help you cover more ground in less time
- link the sections of your presentation
- illustrate something that is difficult to explain or time-consuming to describe
- show reality in ways that words alone cannot (photographs, plans, maps)
- help the audience visualise abstract concepts (charts/ diagrams/ conceptual visuals)
- summarise information (keywords, graphs, tables)
- add interest to a ‘dry’ topic
1.1 Plan Your Presentation
Before you even think about making visuals for your presentation, you must know what you are going to say (see The Learning Centre’s Oral Presentations in Tutorials & Seminars brochure for more information).
- Write your presentation script.
- Organise the structure (your introduction, body and conclusion).
- Identify the main points and concepts, then determine which of these will require a visual for clarity.
- Write an outline to help plan your visuals.
After you’ve written your talk, then start planning your slideshow.
1.2 Plan Your Visuals
Once you know what you’re going to say, you can plan visuals to support your presentation. Planning helps you gather and organise your ideas before you start designing slides on computer. Planning will not only save time, but ensure that your visuals are effective.
Make a storyboard
Draw up a ‘storyboard’—a visual layout of the different ‘scenes’ in your presentation in rough sketch form. Storyboarding your slides before you create them helps you visualise how the content of your presentation will flow and how the slides relate to each other. Your storyboard should be a type of map, outlining the main points of your presentation.
Draw in pencil and have an eraser handy. You can rule up some frames on A3 paper or use a set of index cards or large post-it notes (cards/ post-its can be rearranged to try out different presentation sequences).
- Decide how many slides you need to use and draw up the appropriate number of frames. (The number of slides you use will depend on the length of your presentation; use no more than five or six slides per 10 minutes).
- Follow the structure of your presentation outline and consider how your presentation will fit into consecutive frames.
- Think beyond bullet points and consider how you could translate text or data into something visual.
- Make rough sketches for each slide. Don’t worry about neatness at this point, just ensure the idea of the visual is clear. The sketching process will help to identify what you want each visual to convey.
Evaluating and redrafting your storyboard enables you to make adjustments early while revisions are easy to do. Read your written script while looking at the storyboard and ask yourself:
- Do my slides clearly display the key ideas from my presentation?
- Is the structure of my presentation apparent in my slides?
- Does my slideshow ‘flow’ from one slide to the next? Are there visual or verbal links to connect each section?
- Is each slide as visually effective as I can make it?
- Is the information presented in the most suitable way? (eg. would a picture be more effective than a description?)
- Will the audience be able to understand it quickly and easily?
Make sure you complete your storyboard before you move to the computer.
Keeping these elements in mind as you prepare and practice the presentation will reduce the amount of re-working you’ll have to do as it evolves, and will result in a streamlined, effective end product.
1. Rate: The optimal rate for a scientific talk is about 100 words per minute. Any faster and the audience can’t absorb the additional information. Use pauses and repeat critical information.
2. Opening: The opening should catch the interest and attention of the audience immediately, while avoiding trite filler phrases (Thank you for having me . . .) and technical jargon.
3. Transitions: The link between successive elements of the talk should be planned carefully. You should make the relation between successive elements clear to the audience.
4. Conclusion: Summarize the main concepts you’ve discussed, and how your work relates to issues you’ve raised. Signal that the summary is beginning (“In summary, …”), but don’t begin the summary too soon or else the audience will start to leave before you finish!
5. Length: Don’t run over! Ever! Shorten your talk by removing details, concepts, and information, not by eliminating words. If it becomes absolutely essential to supply details, supplement your presentation with a handout. Make about 10% more handouts than you think you’ll need. Always leave time for a few questions at the end of the talk.