The most important element of an oral presentation is, of course, the content and ideas you are
trying to communicate. However, the communication of content is often impeded by a poor manner
of delivery. Effective public speaking involves the whole person, not just ideas. Manner of delivery
includes style of speech, handling of
equipment, dress, and movement.
You must rehearse so that your presentation will be clear, concise, and delivered in a relaxed and
Part of your rehearsal is the drafting and report-planning process you must go through to organize your topic,
as well as the process of preparing your visuals.
- Get information on the kind of room in which you will be delivering your oral report.
How big is it? What kind of sound system, if any, is available? Always try to
familiarize yourself with the physical setting of your presentation beforehand.
- Check out any equipment you will be using, such as overhead projectors, ahead of
time. Be prepared to give the talk in an alternative format if properly functioning
equipment is not available.
- Never write out a full text of your talk with the intent of memorizing it. A
memorized written text contains syntax appropriate to the page and the eye but will
be difficult for the audience of an oral presentation to follow. If you are nervous,
you may forget key memorized passages and become confused.
- Use visuals as your main cue cards--if they are well
designed, they will communicate your key ideas to the audience and serve as notes
for you as well.
- Write transitional phrases on the hard-copy version
of your visuals. Avoid using index cards with notes on them. They will be difficult
to handle during your presentation and will add to the clutter of materials at the
Your first rehearsal should simply be a review of the order of presenting your material. Riffle
through your visuals until you have an intuitive understanding of their order and of their relevance
to the organization and to the purpose of your presentation.
Once you have established this intuitive flow for your presentation, try delivering a version of the
complete report, noting those places where transitions or key ideas are weak. Repeat this process
several times until you are satisfied that you have covered your topic clearly and concisely with language appropriate to your audience.
A relaxed, extemporaneous style of speech and delivery will suit most formal and informal oral report situations. Effective speakers can
deliver a presentation with great clarity yet with a relaxed and open manner. Extemporaneous speaking does not rely on a memorized text, nor is it a droning reading of a written manuscript. Instead, this style of speaking relies on visuals as cue cards. Let the main items on your overheads prompt you. If you have rehearsed your presentation, you will have a store of prepared but not stiff, memorized speech at your command. Extemporaneous speaking employs syntax close to that of conversational speech, without needless digressions or repetitions.
Extemporaneous speaking allows you to react to any audience interaction on the spot without fear
of deviating from a memorized script.
Point to the screen to indicate parts of a figure. If you bend over the overhead projector and use
your hand or a pen to point out parts of an overhead, you will most likely obscure the full projected
image and leave your audience in the dark. Move back from the projector, stand beside the screen,
and, while facing the audience, use a pointer or a hand-held laser arrow to emphasize elements of
- Identify and try to avoid your verbal tics. All speakers have verbal tics,
those phrases or sounds (for example, "okay," "umm," "and") that they insert during
pauses or between sentences. Verbal tics, if repeated often enough, will annoy an
audience and distract them from the content or argument you are trying to
- Speak clearly and loudly. If you cannot be heard you cannot
communicate your ideas.
- Modulate your voice to show emphasis. Oral communication does not
have access to the rich store of typographical styles available to the writer to show
emphasis. You can, however, show emphasis by stressing various words or by
repeating key terms both in your visual materials and in your speech. In addition,
varying your rate of speech will alleviate boredom and keep your audience
- Face the audience and establish eye contact with them. If you do not
face the audience (and sometimes nervous speakers don't), most likely you will seem
distracted; if you are facing the screen, you will not be audible. As you face your
audience, establish eye contact with them.
Avoid excessive movement around the podium. Unnecessary movements can distract the audience's
attention from the content of your presentation. Similarly, a stiff,
rigid posture will distance some audience members. Adopt a relaxed yet inoffensive posture at the
podium. Remember, the audience is more interested in what you have to say than in you.
- Do not write on your overhead during a formal oral
presentation. Writing in real-time (for example, to sketch out a derivation of
an equation) during a formal presentation looks messy. Some pens will not write
well on acetates. You will most likely obscure the image on the screen behind you.
Instead, prepare additional overheads to show
detailed derivations of equations in case you are asked to provide this information
during the question-and-answer
- Move away from the projector and to the side of the screen once you have placed an
overhead on the projector so that you do not block the audience's view.
- If you are delivering a formal oral presentation
before a large audience, position yourself so that you do not obscure the screen
behind you. Limit your range of motion, moving comfortably between the podium
and the screen if necessary to underscore important items. Do not meander around
in front of an audience.
- Hand gestures may be used to show emphasis, but as with verbal tics, be sure you are not indulging in nervousness by
- Always face the audience to maintain good eye contact
and so that your voice will project into the room.
## Delivery ##
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