Effective oral reports contain an introduction, body, and conclusion. The audience should recognize each of these sections.

Develop the Introduction

The introduction establishes both the tone and the topic of the speech. Your tone is your attitude toward the listeners and the subject matter. You need to be serious but not deadly dull. And avoid being so intense that no one-can laugh or so flip that the topic seems insignificant. To establish a topic, you need to introduce it succinctly. Be explicit about your purpose. Follow these guidelines:

• In industry or business, you do not need to begin your report with a humorous story, a quotation by an authority, or an anecdote.

• Capitalize on your listeners’ initial attention by saying something closely related to your topic in terms of time, space, money, equipment personnel  or policy.

• Explain how your report is important to your audience.

• Present your conclusions or recommendations right away. Then the audience will have a viewpoint from which to interpret your data as you present it.

• Link yourself to the audience by explaining how you assembled your report.

• Indicate your special knowledge of or concern with the subject.

• Identify the situation that required you to prepare the report (or the person who requested it).

• Preview the main points so your listeners can understand the order in which you will present your ideas.

The order of-your ideas should be appropriate to the subject. Most subjects can be structured into chronological order, problem-to-solution order, least-to-most-important order, or spatial order, such as from outside to inside or from north to south. If your preview is clear, the listeners’ can follow and understand the major points in the report.

Develop the Body

Time is to an oral report as space is to a written one. An oral report, however, does not lend itself to the concise presentation good writers achieve in a written report. To communicate an idea verbally, a speaker must state a generalization, provide details to support it, and reinforce it with a summary.

Numerous studies have shown that listeners simply do not hear everything the speaker says, and if they miss an idea or an important detail,
they have no recourse. Therefore, the verbal communication process should consume several minutes per main idea  long enough for the
speaker to get each main point across.

Use Transition Liberally Clear transitions are very helpful to audience members. By your transitions, you can remind them of the report’s structure, which you have established in the preview. Indicate how the next main idea fits into the overall report and why it is important to know about it. For instance, a proposal may seem very costly until the shortness of the payback period is emphasized.Select Important Details. Although providing extensive details to support main ideas is not possible in the time permitted for an oral report, you should select enough significant details to make the point valid. Choose details that are especially meaningful to the audience. Explain any anticipated changes in equipment, staff, or policy, and how these changes will be beneficial. . Impose a Time Limit Always impose your own. time limit on the report, and narrow your number of main ideas accordingly. It is much better to preent two or three main ideas carefully than to attempt to communicate more information than your listeners can grasp. If you select only the most important ideas, your speech will be concise enough to please the plant manager and detailed enough to satisfy her staff members.

Develop a Conclusion

The conclusion section restates the main ideas presented in the body of the report. Follow these guidelines:
• As you conclude your report, you should actually say “In conclusion to capture your listeners” interest.

• For a proposal, stress the main advantages of your ideas and urge your listeners to take specific action.

• For a recommendation report, emphasize the most significant data presented for each criterion and clearly present your recommendations.

• Use a visual to summarize the important data.

• End the report by asking if your listeners have any questions.



The best oral report is extemporaneous rather than read or memorized. An extemporaneous report, however, is not a spontaneous, off the top of your  head presentation. Rather, an extemporaneous report follows a prepared, clear outline, with the speaker supplying appropriate detail and explanation as needed. In fact, an extemporaneous report is carefully rehearsed and delivered.

Rehearse Your Presentation

To be successful, you should rehearse your extemporaneous report. During rehearsals; go straight through the speech, using note cards. At least once, wear the same clothes you will use in the actual presentation. Use the outline you have prepared on the note cards (5- by 8-inch cards arc preferred) only as a reference and a reminder. Do not clutch the note cards with both hands, but hold them graciously with one hand. This will allow you to be more free and expressive with your hands during the presentation.

At each trial run, attempt to give the presentation a conversational quality, and practice using your voice and gestures to emphasize important points. Youhave rehearsed enough when you feel secure with your report, but always stop short of memorization. If you do not, you will ultimately grope for memorized words rather than concentrating on the listeners and letting the words flow.

For reports to large groups, final rehearsals should simulate conditions under which you will make the speech. Use a room of approximately the same size, with the same type of equipment for projecting your voice and your visuals. Rehearsals of this type not only guard against technical problems but allow- to become comfortable in an environment similar .

Carefully arrange visual aids in the correct order and decide what you will do with them as you finish with them. If a listener asks you to return to a visual, you want to be able to find it easily. If you are using handouts, decide whether to ·distribute them before or during the presentation. Distributing them before the presentation eliminates the need to interrupt your flow of thought later, but since the listeners will flip through the handouts, they may be distracted as you start. Distributing them during the presentation causes an interruption, but listeners will focus immediately on the visual.

After you have rehearsed privately several times, ask a colleague to attend at least one rehearsal, to comment on how well he or she  hear you and see the visuals, and to offer a critique of the speech, including any possibly distracting mannerisms. Finally, record the report on an audio cassette recorder and listen yourself for verbal mannerisms or lack of clarity.

Deliver Your Presentation

A well-prepared presentation is pleasant to give and pleasant to attend. After all your preparation, you should give a strong report. You will increase your effectiveness, however, if you use notes, adopt a comfortable extemporaneous style, and overcome stage fright.

Use Notes Experienced speakers have found that outlines prepared on a few large note cards (one side only) are easier to handle than outlines on many small note cards. Some speakers even prefer outlines on one or two sheets of standard paper, mounted on light cardboard for easier handling. The outline should contain clear main headings and subheadings. Make sure your outline has plenty of white space so you can keep track Of your place.

Adopt a Comfortable Style The extemporaneous method results in natural, conversational delivery and concentration on the audience. Using this method; you can direct your attention to the listeners, referring to the outline only to jog your memory and to ensure that ideas are presented in the proper order. Smile; take time to actually look at individual people and to collect your thoughts. Instead of rushing to your next main point, check to see if members of the  ‘understood your last point. ~our word choice may occasionally suffer .n you speak extemporaneously, but reports delivered in this way still communicate better than those memorized or read.

Overcome Stage Fright

Stage fright is natural in a speaking situation. The best way to conquer it is to prepare carefully and to know your subject. If you are the best-informed person in the room, you can stop worrying about your subject and concentrate on communicating .

The following suggestions will help you as you face your listeners and deliver the speech.

1. Begin positively. Smile and mention that you are be present. An audience is usually more willing to accept your information if
you speak positively.

2. Make sure you can be heard, but try to speak conversationally. You should be able to feel a sense of round, full voice in your rib cage.
You should also feel that your voice fills the space of the room, with the sound of your voice bouncing back slightly to your own ears. If
you are enthused, your voice will have variety and emphasis that will add to clarity. The listeners should  impression, that you
are just talking to them rather than that you are presenting a report. Inexperienced speakers very often talk too rapidly.

3. If the situation calls for you to use a microphone, practice with one beforehand. Fumbling with the microphone will distract your audience. Just speak naturally into the microphone; it will do for you.

4. Some projection equipment runs loudly, Be certain that you can speak over the hum of the motor.

5. Look directly at each listener at least once during the report. With experience, you will be able to tell by your listeners’ faces whether you are communicating. If they seem puzzled or inattentive, be prepared to adapt by repeating the main idea, by giving additional examples for clarity, or by asking for questions.

6. Fight the tendency to use your outline when you do not need it. When collecting your thoughts, do not say “uh”; instead, pause and remain silent. Remaining silent requires fortitude. Smile. Look at your audience. Think over the last idea presented. Chances are that the transition to your next idea’ will occur to you easily and quickly. What seems like a very long pause may actually be only a few seconds.

7. Try to learn – and stop – your distracting mannerism.s. 0 one wants to see speakers brush their hair, scratch their arms, rock back and forth on the balls of their feet, or smack their lips. If the mannerism is pronounced enough, it may be all the audience will remember. Stand  both feet without slumping or swaying. During transitions, take a moment to make sure that your upper body, shoulders, neck, and face are relaxed and comfortable before you continue with your report.

8. Learn how to use visual aid equipment. Speakers who fumble over the equipment and. apologize about it lose their credibility. .

9. When you are finished with a visual, remove it so that it does not compete with you. If you are using a pointer, set it down to avoid
tapping with it. If you are using an overhead projector, cover the lighted glass with a piece of paper.

10. To point out  aspect of a visual projected by an overhead projector, lay a pencil or an arrow made of paper on the appropriate spot of the transparency. Do not point with your finger. Some speakers are very effective using a pointer such as a yardstick directly on the

11. When answering questions, make sure everyone understands the question before you begin to answer. Have reference materials ready for instant access if required. If you cannot answer a question during the question-and-answer session, and assure the questioner that you will find the answer. Thank the audience for their questions and interest in the report.


An effective speech begins with a careful analysis of the audience; keep in mind important points such as audiences only hear the speech once. Speakers should use visual <lids to help listeners grasp the main points of the speech. An effective device for preparing a speech is a storyboard, on which the speaker lists main points and the visual that will be used to support each point. Every speech has an introduction, body, and conclusion. The introduction sets the tone and- previews the speech. The body has clear transitions and important details, and is presented in a set time frame. To give a good speech, rehearse several times until you can speak comfortably from note cards. Try to speak in a conversational manner as if talking extemporaneously to friends. The secret to conquering stage fright is to be well informed and well prepared.


1. Examine at least two indexes or abstract services that list periodicals in your major or area of interest. Prepare a brief oral report on them, Use at least two visual aids (make one of them an overhead transparency – you should learn how to make and use transparencies). Discuss topics such as the number of periodicals the index or abstract presents and the ease and method of using it. You might want to bring in a photocopy of a page from a periodical and demonstrate how you found it, starting with the index and then explaining how you found the journal itself.


Your instructor may require an oral presentation of a formal report you have written during the term. The speech should be extemporaneous and approximately ten minutes long. To prepare for your oral presentation, follow the suggestions in this chapter for converting a written report into a successful speech. Make your visuals, outline the speech, and most important, rehearse. A question-and-answer session with other members of the class should follow your presentation.


Holmes, Nigel. “Get Smart about Charts.” Publish! 4.3 (1989):42-45.
Meng, Brita. “Get to the Point.” MaC’c1Jbrld5.4 (1988):136-143.
3Ll’villc,Richard. “Slide Rules.” Publish! 4.3 (1989).51-53.
Tessler, Franklin. “Step-by-Step Slides.” Macworld 5.12 (1988):148-153.



Consider the Audience

Your oral report must engage your audience, who will have different levels of knowledge and emotional involvement with your topic. Your speeches will reach listeners more effectively if you understand a few essential differences  both positive and negative – between a reading and a listening audience.

Speakers Use Personal Contact One of the advantages of a speech is that you have personal contact with your listeners. You can make use of personality, voice, and gestures, as well as first-person pronouns, visuals, and feedback from listeners. Use this personal contact to your advantage. Be a person speaking to people. Your audience will react positively.

Listeners Are Present Entire Oral Report That listeners are present for the entire report may seem advantageous, but it also may make communication more difficult. Many listeners only want to hear selected parts of a report – the parts that apply directly to them. Let’s assume that your listeners are the plant manager and her staff. The plant. manager would probably prefer a capsule version of the report, which the abstract of a written report would provide, .leaving the details for staff members to examine. An oral report, however, gives the manager no choice but to listen to all your detailed information – a situation that might put her in a negative frame of mind.

Even the manager’s staff members might prefer a written report. With a written report, they can read the abstract and then use the table of contents to locate the financial, technical, personnel, or other sections critical to their work. However, all the staff members must listen to the entire oral report, and they might become restive as they hear all about sections that they have little interest in.

Listeners Have Only One Chance to Grasp Information Even though a question-and-answer period may follow the report, listeners cannot study the information as a reader would study a formal report. Listeners Cannot React to Formatted Pages The oral report does not provide headings to identify sections of particular interest to the listeners and to indicate parallel and subordinate ideas. ‘Instead, you have to’ provide oral~cues or use visual aids to help an audience understand when one section ends and another begins.

Use Visual Aids

Visual aids can reinforce major points and clarify complex ideas in an oral report. As you construct an outline for your report, ask yourself whether a visual aid will help listeners grasp the point or the section, and then organize the report with all your visual aids in mind. Good visual aids are • often the difference between an effective and an ineffective presentation. Research shows that visuals cause audiences to perceive the speaker as better prepared and more professional. Color graphics enhance the speakers effectiveness even more. (Meng 137-143). To use them advantageously, you should learn the kinds of  aids available and how to select, use, create, and display them .

Kinds of Visual Aids Appropriate visual aids for a speech include outlines; slides or drawings; tables, graphs, and charts; and handouts. The basic outline shows listeners the sections and subsections of the report. This device orients the audience to the relationship among sections in the speech – what is a major section, what is a subsection – as well as to the sequence of sections. Remember, though, that outlines are boring to look at for any length of time.

Slides and drawings can introduce listeners to important images. Using good-quality slides, a speaker can present exact representations. With drawings, a speaker can illustrate procedures, such as the path of products through a sterilizing machine.

Tables, graphs, and charts can present data in a way that allows listeners to grasp relationships immediately. An oral explanation of the relationship among the percentages that affect a pay increase is hard to follow, but a table or graph will clarify the point.

A handout can replace or supplement projected visual aids. Often a handout of the  outline is effective (use an outline report as explained in You could also pass out copies of a key image, perhaps a table. Listeners can make notes on it as you speak.

Uses of Visual Aids

Decide how you will use visual aids. There are two basic options:

• to illustrate a point

• to begin a Lenghtly explanation

For instance, if the writer of the power scrubber report discussed earlier in Chapter 12 was giving an oral presentation and wanted to dramatize the effect of the scrubber, he might show. before-and-after slides – a picture of a dirty floor and another of a dean floor. He would not discuss the details of the image but would just let the contrast make the point. However, if he wanted to familiarize the audience with the machine, he might project a photograph or drawing of it and then discuss each part in detail.

If a section of your speech contains a complicated explanation  of a process or a mechanism or an abstract relationship  a visual aid will always help listeners. Project the image first; then explain it in detail. This strategy is more effective than reading a long explanatory section from a paper and then showing the image.

Use a Storyboard to Choose Visual Aids Experienced speakers use storyboards to determine which visual aids they will use. A storyboard is simply a list of topics opposite a list of visual aids. To make a storyboard, follow these guidelines:

• Determine the major points of your presentation and list them down the left side of a sheet of paper .

• List the visual aids you plan to illustrate each point down the right side.

Here is an example of a storyboard



Source of assignment


Section 1

Method of


Process of laminating

Machines used


3 types of laminates

Advantages of each

Section 4




Visual Aid

Outline of main topics

List of main methods

Flow chart of process

Drawing of laminator

For each type:

Cross-sectional view

List of advantages (both on same page)

Table-of costs

List of recommendations

Creating Computer Visuals Several computer programs, such as Power point, Cricket Presents, and More, allow you to design visuals on a computer screen. Most of them allow you to start from an outline and use a storyboard. After you design your visuals, you can print them and then make overhead transparencies from them. Or you can duplicate them and hand them out as notes to your speech. You can also have slides made from them; more sophisticated computers will allow you to use color. These options are discussed on pages 358-359. The following guidelines will help you design effective computer visuals  These guidelines apply equally well to handmade visual aids used in a presentation.

1. Know the parts of the visual- title, text or graphics, and border .

The title appears at the top, usually in the largest type size. Use it to name the contents of the visual clearly. The text makes the points you wish to highlight. Use phrases that convey specific content rather  topics. The graphic consists of a table, chart, or drawing  The border is a line that provides a frame around the visual.

2. Create a template or “master.” Make all the visuals consistent, with the same elements in the same place and in the same color. (For
instance, make all titles 24 point, black, centered at the top.)

3. Use only main idea per visual.

4. For text visuals (visuals that use only words): Use no more than seven lines of text. Restrict each line to seven words or less. Use initial capitals followed by lower-case letters. Use 1S-point type for body text, 24-point type for titles.

5. For graphic visuals (tables, charts, pictures).Simplify the chart so that it makes only one point. Use charts [or dramatic effect. A line graph that plunges sharply at
one point calls attention to the drop. (Your job is to interpret it.) Use tables for presenting numbers. (Be prepared to point out the numbers you want the audience to notice Use pictures to illustrate an object that you want to discuss (for instance, the control panel of a new machine).

6. Use color intelligently. Give each item in the’ template its own color. Use a background color; blue is commonly used. Use contrasting colors – white or yellow text on green or blue background.

Use red sparingly; it focuses attention on itself. Long passages in red are hard to read. Avoid hard-to-read color combinations, such as yellow on white, or black on blue; violet can be very hard to read.

Methods of D <playing Visual Aids Whether you use a computer or make visuals by hand, you must have some method to display them. Three common methods are overhead transparencies, slides, and flip charts. An overhead transnarellcy is a clear sheet of plastic that carries an image. An overhead projector transmits the image to a screen. These transparencies are simple to make and easy to handle during a presentation. They can be framed with a commercially available cardboard holder, much like a giant slide mount. The cardboard frame makes them easy to handle; you can also use the frame to record key information, such as the topic and the sequence number. Overhead projections can be used in normally lighted rooms and thus allow you to maintain eye contact with your audience.

Slides are an effective medium, allowing you to add color to your presentation, but they.are difficult to make. Either you send your camera ready copy to a that will convert them, or you make them yourself using a copy stand. The computer programs mentioned above have made slide presentations more common. Two problems with using slides are that .you lose eye  because you darken the room, and you increase the  of the presentation, thus reducing personal contact. Flip charts arc large pads of paper on an easel. The speaker the image on each shed, then flips it over when it is no longer needed. The sneaker draws the image (or prints the words) during or before the  This method eliminates electronic equipment with its possible failures, but the act of drawing can distract the audience.

Make sure before your presentation that the  has the equipment )’011 need. Many experienced speakers bring a backup visual aid to use if the st one should fail, They will, for  handouts to supply if J projector bulb burns out during a key visual.

Oral Reports

Oral Reports


As you advance in your career, your speaking skills become increasingly important. At meetings, you may be called on to explain the results of investigations, propose solutions to problems, report on the progress of projects, or justify your department’s requests for more employees and equipment. Every kind of writ~en report has its oral counterpart; sometimes an oral report supplements a written one, and often an oral presentation takes the place of a written report. This chapter explains the audience, the visual aids, and the organization of an oral report, and concludes with guidelines for delivering the speech effectively.