For the oral presentation, imagine you are formally handing over your report to the people who
commissioned it. Guide them through the highlights of your work (and reassure them your fee was
warranted) by reminding them why it was needed, how you conducted your research, why pursuing
your proposed expansion of a current partnership is a good idea, and what they should do next. You
will create a PowerPoint presentation of 5-7 minutes highlighting the content of your formal report and,
using Panopto, do a narrated presentation.
The focus of your presentation is to provide a clear, well-organized, well-planned, and well-timed
discussion. You do not have to be overly smooth in your delivery—simply going over the essentials of
your report in a calm, organized, and well-planned manner is enough.
Here are some guidelines to help you do your best work:
Make sure your oral report lasts no longer than 5-7 minutes. Since your presentation is
recorded, keeping to this time limit should not be an issue.
Pay special attention to the introduction to your talk. Indicate the purpose of your oral report,
give an overview of its contents, and find some way to interest the audience. (See the example
text of an introduction to an oral report in Figure 12-2.)
Make sure you discuss key elements of your visuals. Don’t just throw them up there and ignore
them. Point out things about them; explain them to the audience.
Make sure that your speaking style and gestures are okay. Ensure that you are loud enough
so that everybody can hear, that you don’t speak too rapidly (nerves often cause that), and that
your gestures and posture are okay. For example, don’t slouch in your chair or against the wall,
and avoid fidgeting with your hands. As for speaking style, consider slowing your tempo a bit—
a common tendency is to get nervous and talk too fast. Also, be aware of how much you say
things like “uh,” “you know,” and “okay.”
Plan to explain any technical aspect of your topic very clearly and understandably. Don’t race
through complex, technical stuff—slow down and explain it carefully so that we understand it.
Use “verbal headings”—by now, you’ve gotten used to using headings in your written work.
There is a corollary in oral reports. With these, you give your audience a very clear signal you
are moving from one topic or part of your talk to the next. (Examples of verbal headings are
shown in Figure 12-3.)
Plan your report in advance and practice it so that it is organized. Make sure that listeners know
what you are talking about and why, which part of the talk you are in, and what’s coming next.
Overviews and verbal headings greatly contribute to this sense of organization.
End with a real conclusion. People sometimes forget to plan how to end an oral report and end
by just trailing off into a mumble. Remember that in conclusions, you can summarize (go back
over high points of what you’ve discussed), conclude (state some logical conclusion based on
what you have presented), provide some last thought (end with some final interesting point but
general enough not to require elaboration), or some combination of these three. And certainly,
you’ll want to prompt the audience for questions and concerns.
As mentioned above, be sure your oral report is carefully timed to 5-7 minutes. Some ideas on
how to do this are presented in the next section.
Figure 12-1. Diagram of the oral presentation.
Preparing for the Oral Report
Pick the method of preparing for the talk that best suits your comfort level with public speaking and with
your topic. However, do some sort of preparation or rehearsal—some people assume that they can just
jump up there and ad lib for 5-7 minutes and be relaxed, informal. It doesn’t often work that way—
drawing a mental blank is the more common experience.
Adapted from http://w3.gel.ulaval.ca/~poussart/gel64324/McMurrey/texte/oral.htm
Here are the obvious possibilities for preparation and delivery:
Write a script, practice it, keep it around for quick-reference during your talk.
Set up an outline of your talk, practice with it, bring it for reference.
Set up cue cards, practice with them, use them during your talk.
Of course, the extemporaneous or impromptu methods are also out there for the brave and the
adventurous. However, remember that your presentation, should be clear, understandable, well-
planned, organized, and informative.
It doesn’t matter which method you use to prepare for the talk, but you must not look at your notes too
often. When there is little or no eye contact or interaction with the audience, the delivery tends toward
a dull monotone that either puts listeners off or is hard to understand.
Figure 12-2. Introductory remarks in an oral presentation.
Delivering an Oral Presentation
When you give an oral report, focus on common problem areas such as these:
Timing—Make sure you keep within the 5-7-minute time limit. Anything under 5 minutes or over
7 is a problem. Rehearse, write a script, or find some other way to get the timing right.
Volume—Obviously, you must be sure to speak loud enough so that all of your audience can
hear you. You might find some way to practice speaking a little louder in the days before the
Pacing, speed—Sometimes, oral presenters who are a bit nervous talk too fast. All that
adrenaline causes them to speed through their talk. That makes it hard for the audience to
follow. In general, it helps listeners to understand you better if you speak a bit more slowly and
deliberately than you do in normal conversation. Slow down, take it easy, be clear.
Gestures and posture—Watch out for nervous hands flying all over the place. This too can be
distracting—and a bit comical. At the same time, don’t turn yourself into a mannequin. Plan to
keep your hands clasped together or holding onto the podium and only occasionally making
some gesture. As for posture, avoid slouching at the podium and leaning against the wall.
Verbal crutches—Watch out for too much “uh,” “you know,” “okay” and other kinds of nervous
verbal habits. Instead of saying “uh” or “you know” every three seconds, just don’t say anything
at all. In the days before your oral presentation, practice speaking without these verbal crutches.
The silence that replaces them is not a bad thing—it gives listeners time to process what you