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.