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.