Oral Communication Skills
Starting a Presentation
Presentations can be made in MS PowerPoint or Google Slides or Keynote.
Giving a presentation in English can be quite a challenge. There are just so many aspects to consider.
Firstly, the audience.
Do you know them well? In which case more informal language can be used.
Or are they unfamiliar to you? If this is the case, then more formal expressions should be adopted.
Whether you use more formal or informal language, it is important to engage the audience through positive body language and a warm welcome. Your tone of voice and changes in intonation are additional useful tools and you might consider asking them relevant questions .
The audience also needs to see a clear and logical structure to follow you effortlessly. Useful linking expressions, when delivered well, provide effective ‘bridges’ guiding the audience from one point to the next.
Good morning/afternoon everyone and welcome to my presentation. First of all, let me thank you all for coming here today.
Let me start by saying a few words about my own background.
As you can see on the screen, our topic today is......
My talk is particularly relevant to those of you who....
This talk is designed to act as a springboard for discussion.
This morning/ afternoon I’m going to take a look at the recent developments in.....
Introducing a point
After the welcome address and the introduction of the speaker comes the presentation of the topic. Here are some useful introductory phrases.
Today I am here to talk to you about…
What I am going to talk about today is…
I would like to take this opportunity to talk to you about…
I am delighted to be here today to tell you about…
I want to make you a short presentation about…
I’d like to give you a brief breakdown of…
It is always recommended to present the goals/idea of your presentation at the beginning. This will help the audience to understand your objectives.
The purpose of this presentation is…
My objective today is…
After presenting the topic and your objectives, give your listeners an overview of the presentation’s structure. Your audience will then know what to expect in detail.
My talk/presentation is divided into “x” parts.
I’ll start with…/First, I will talk about…/I’ll begin with…
…then I will look at…
How a teleprompter works
(1) Video camera; (2) Shroud; (3) Video monitor; (4) Clear glass or beam splitter; (5) Image from subject; (6) Image from video monitor
A teleprompter, is a display device that prompts the person speaking with an electronic visual text of a speech or script.How does a Teleprompter work? When is a Teleprompter used?
Free Online Teleprompter Software
Preparing and delivering Speeches
Know your audience
Know the occasion
Select a topic
Select a purpose
Gather potential content
Gather more content than actually used
Phrase the speech
Prepare visual aids
Practice, practice, practice
1. Know your audience.
Whether you are presenting a paper or giving a speech, you need to analyze your audience first and foremost. It is easy to alienate an audience by not examining the characteristics of the group, what they know and what they want to know. Be aware of the audience’s attitudes and beliefs in general, toward you and the topic. Consider age, socioeconomic status, and educational level. For example, if you are addressing a veteran group of administrators on a management topic, covering the basics of management would undoubtedly be boring and possibly insulting. There are numerous other factors crucial to analyzing an audience, but the time spent on this background check is necessary for the success of your presentation.
2. Know the occasion.
As you scrutinize the audience, think carefully about the occasion. Are you a keynote speaker? Presenting a paper? Introducing a speaker or chairing a panel? Each situation is different and requires preparation tailored to the occasion. Occasion analysis includes looking at room size (i.e., whether there are enough chairs for everyone affects the comfort level of the group which in turn affects its response to your message), the arrangement of space (can everyone see you?), and the acoustics (there’s nothing more exasperating than having to strain to hear a speaker). Be conscientious about time limits too—if you are allotted 15 minutes, then prepare your speech or presentation accordingly. Also, make sure your message matches the occasion. It would be inappropriate, for example, to speak about a serious topic at a happy event.
3. Select a topic.
Selecting a topic can some- times occur first, stemming from the audience and occasion, as in the case of a paper being accepted for a conference. If you need to pick a topic, however, be sure it is one that is inter- esting to you. It is also a good idea to be a little more knowledgeable about the subject than your audience, but interest is crucial. If you do not have enthusiasm for the subject matter, neither will your audience.
4. Select a purpose.
For this step, deter- mine the general purpose of your speech or presentation. Are you informing, presenting, or entertaining? Beyond the general purpose, decide on a specific purpose, what you want your audience to spe- cifically think or do (e.g., I want my audience to under- stand the three benefits of holding a faculty workshop on preparing library assign- ments). It is helpful at this stage to write down the central idea or thesis statement of your talk as well (e.g., library censorship is increasing).
5. Gather potential content.
If you are presenting a paper, you have already done this step. If not, this is the research phase where you gather information through printed sources, interviews, discussion with others, and your own expertise.
6. Gather more content than actually used.
Sort through your material choosing only the strongest and best material for your talk. This step allows you the luxury of editing and, if need be, recognizing any information gaps that need to be filled.
7. Organize content.
The importance of this step cannot be stressed enough, for both speeches and paper presentations. Many presenters do not realize that presenting a paper does not mean the paper is read, word for word, at breakneck speed. Rather, the “information has to be recast for the new medium. Don’t be bound by the flow of your paper.”2 This means organize your ideas based on the audience, occasion, and purpose of your presentation.
Follow the standard organizational format of introduction, body, and conclusion, which translates into the standard public speaking formula:
• Tell them what you’re going to tell them;
• Tell them;
• Tell them what you’ve told them.3
Outline the body of your talk first, limiting it to three or four main points with sufficient supporting material to back up those points. Too much information can lose an audience; well-organized key points help an audience re- member them and allow for easy note-taking.
After you have outlined the body of your speech or paper, prepare the introduction and conclusion. Your introduction should start out with an attention- getter which can be an anecdote, a quotation, a question, a joke, or whatever is appropriate for the topic and audience.
The introduction is also your opportunity to build rapport between you and the audience; tell them why your speech or paper is relevant to them and that you are glad to be speaking to them. A colleague related to me an opening remark by a speaker which did not serve to build rapport between her and the audience, even though she probably intended it to. The speaker said, in essence, “I’ve been to a hun- dred of these and, to tell you the truth, I really don’t want to be here; my feet hurt; and I don’t know what I’m going to say, but we’ll get through this together.” Please, treat your audi- ence as if they are guests in your home.
Once you’ve told your audience why they should want to listen to you, lead into your talk by briefly previewing the major points to be covered in your speech (tell them what you’re going to tell them).
The conclusion should include the summary of the main points (tell them what you’ve told them) and a final statement that leaves the audience with something to think about or remember (this will depend on the purpose of your speech).
For your talk, I suggest you write the main ideas of your introduction, body, and conclusion on 3 x 5 note cards that are numbered (in case you drop them). Many speakers write delivery cues on the cards, i.e., “slow down,” “emphasize this word,” “look at audience.” You can also indicate transitions on the cards so you will move smoothly from idea to idea. Overall, be sure your note cards are just that—easy- to-read notes on easy-to-handle cards—and not the speech written in full.
Also, movement is fine, but only if it is controlled—your audience does not want fo feel it is at a tennis match.
8. Phrase the speech.
The previous steps involved preparing the message; now you are ready to work on delivering the message. Usually, a type of delivery most appropriate is the extemporaneous delivery. With extemporaneous speaking, you are thoroughly prepared and practiced, but the exact wording of the speech is determined at the time you actually speak the words. You want to avoid memorizing your talk; instead, know your key ideas and translate them into words as you speak. This means you have to think about what you are saying as you are speaking. Each time you practice, you may say your speech a little bit differently, but this allows flexibility and the chance to adapt to your audience if needed. Speaking extemporaneously can be difficult to achieve at first, but this style of delivery creates spontaneity, which can affect the receptivity of your audience to you and your ideas.
9. Prepare visual aids.
Visual aids, if appropriate for your speech or presentation, can help your audience remember your points and clarify information. Speech textbooks usually emphasize the following when covering visual aids: make sure the audience can see the visual aid; show the visual aid only when you are referring to it; and talk to the audience, not to the visual aid. Also, practice with the visual aid; using visual aids can add to the length of a talk and can cause you to become flustered if you run into difficulties. Additionally, if you have audience handouts, distribute them at the end of your talk if possible. An audience’s attention can shift easily to a handout instead of staying focused on you.
10. Practice, practice, practice.
Practicing your presentation or speech contributes directly to your success as a speaker. As you practice, consider both your verbal and nonverbal delivery. Vocal delivery includes volume, rate, pitch. Strive for vocal variety which is the variation of these elements—loudness/softness (volume), fastness/slowness (rate), highness/lowness (pitch). An expressive voice will engage an audience; a monotonous, flat voice will lose one. Also, remember that nonverbal delivery carries as much weight as verbal. Eye contact with your audience is crucial, and this means actually looking at audience members. Hamilton Gregory says to look at the audience 95 percent of the time in a friendly, sincere way, using the other five percent of the time to look at your notes.5 As for posture, don’t slouch, and avoid shifting your weight from foot to foot.