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EPGP 2009-10 - Term I - Group VIII Submission
Instructor: Prof. Abha Chatterjee
Table of Contents
1 Oral Communication Competency: A Managerial Perspective...........................................................3
2 Manager’s Oral Communication Skills................................................................................................3
3 Oral v/s Written Communications......................................................................................................4
4 Planning a Talk....................................................................................................................................5
5 Practicing a Talk................................................................................................................................10
6 Performing a Talk..............................................................................................................................14
7 Supporting a Talk with Visuals..........................................................................................................17
8 Self-Assessment Checklist.................................................................................................................19
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1 Oral Communication Competency: A Managerial Perspective
As per Prof. Jeanne D. Maes of University of South Alabama, oral communication competency is
most important for business students in the workplace. He referred the results of two studies
indicating that oral communication is the most important competency for college graduates entering
the workforce, and that the oral skills most important for entry level graduates are: following
instructions, listening, conversing, and giving feedback. In the first study, 354 managers identified and
ranked the competencies and characteristics they consider when hiring college graduates for entry-
level positions. Findings revealed that the top three competencies are oral communications, problem-
solving, and self- motivation. No significant differences were found among industries, number of
employees, or management level of the responding manager.
Based on the first study, Study 2 identified the most important skills associated with oral
communication competency. From a list of 13 oral communication skills, managers rated each skill
according to importance to entry-level jobs occupied by college graduates, and how frequently entry-
level graduates use each skill. No significant differences were found in the ratings on importance of
oral communication skills. However, graduates in companies with less than 200 employees
reportedly handle customer complaints more frequently than graduates in larger companies, and
graduates in companies with more than 200 employees use meeting skills more frequently than
graduates in smaller companies.
2 Manager’s Oral Communication Skills
Communicating in the workplace requires the ability to converse with colleagues, management and
customers in a variety of situations. The good communicator speaks and listens, and can
communicate by telephone and in meetings. The two most important skills are persuasive speaking
and responsive listening. Major part of a manager’s day is spent on communication with employees
and other managers, thus his abilities to speak and listen are critical to his success. For example, oral
communication skills are used when a manager must make sales presentations, conduct interviews,
perform employee evaluations, and hold press conferences.
Managers generally prefer to rely on oral communication because communication tends to be more
complete and thorough when talking in person. In personal interactions, a person can judge how the
other party is reacting, get immediate feedback, and answer questions. Normally, people tend to
assume that talking to someone directly is more credible than receiving a written message. Face-to-
face communication permits not only the exchange of words, but also the opportunity to see the
nonverbal communication. However, there are drawbacks associated with verbal communication.
Unless all parties hear the same message, it can be inconsistent. Although oral communication is
useful for conveying the viewpoints of others and fostering an openness that encourages people to
communicate, it is a weak tool for implementing a policy or issuing directives where many specifics
Listening is making sense of what is heard and requires paying attention, interpreting, and
remembering sound stimuli. Effective listening is active, requiring the hearer to “get inside the head” of
the speaker so that he or she can understand the communication from the speaker's point of view.
Effective listeners do the following:
• Make eye contact
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• Schedule sufficient, uninterrupted time for meetings
• Genuinely seek information.
• Avoid being emotional or attacking others
• Paraphrase the message you heard, especially to clarify the speaker's intentions
• Don't talk to fill pauses, or respond to statements in a point-counterpoint fashion
• Ask clarifying questions
• Avoid making distracting gestures
Managers often do poor jobs of providing employees with performance feedback. When providing
feedback, managers should do the following:
• Focus on specific behaviors rather than making general statements
• Keep feedback impersonal and goal-oriented
• Offer feedback as soon after the action as possible
• Ask questions to ensure understanding of the feedback
• Direct negative feedback toward behavior that the recipient can control
3 Oral v/s Written Communications
It is important to acknowledge fundamental differences between oral and written communication
before planning an oral presentation. Primary goal of oral communication is to make personal contact
with the audience, and to help connect them to the content. It is not an effective strategy to read a
written report aloud for engaging with the audience. Specially, the needs/preferences of the audience
play an even larger role in oral presentations than in writing. The content of presentations should be
prepared with this goal in mind.
Since, oral presentations are time-sensitive. In case of written communication, if a reader get lost or
stop paying attention for a few minutes, he can always flip back a few pages. Listeners, on the other
hand, usually can’t interrupt the speaker and ask that he start again and go back a few minutes.
Once words are spoken, they vanish. Presenters can account for the fleeting nature of oral
presentations by making sure that the presentation is well organized and by making structure explicit
in the talk, so the audience can always knows where they’ve been and where they’re going.
Following sections outlines principles and strategies for planning, designing visuals for, practicing, and
presenting a talk.
• Strategies for preparing an oral presentation - Planning a Talk
• Strategies and methods for rehearsing a presentation - Practicing a Talk
• Tips one can use while giving a presentation - Performing a Talk
• Tips for designing and integrating visuals into a presentation - Supporting a Talk with
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4 Planning a Talk
A presenter should consider following questions before planning the talk.
i. What is the purpose of your presentation?
ii. Who is your audience?
A Speech or written notes? Whether to speak from notes or to write a complete speech is the first
decision a presentation planner need to make. While, any strategy would work, but some students
are not comfortable without a prepared text to read; others can easily talk authoritatively with only
notes (and sometimes without). One needs to choose what one is comfortable with, or something in
between the two options.
However, if one chooses to use a prepared speech, it must be designed for oral delivery and one
should not end up reading it from paper. While it is okay to use it for a supporting paper, but totally
depending on written statements would make it difficult to engage with the audiences, also one need
to be ready to depart from the text and flexible to talk with surrounding topics or examples.
Overall, following components should be ensured while planning an oral presentation.
1. Purpose Statement
2. Opening Strategy
3. Main Idea
6. Take Away Statement
The presenter should introduce his talk with a brief overview of the points he will cover, locating the
topic in its wider context and clearly stating his argument or thesis. He should describe what the
presentation is about and how it will develop. The objective of the talk or what the speaker wants to
accomplish has to be brought up in the Purpose Statement. This should not be limited to a statement
of topic. For example, one might need to explain the advantages of a design, to allay the concerns
that a project is behind (or justify why it is), or to clarify a complex aspect of one’s work. This purpose
statement, however, is not always explicitly stated in the presentation itself and often unstated, the
purpose statement guides your preparation for one’s talk.
'I'm going to talk about ....'
'This morning I want to explain ....'
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'The points I will focus on are first of all..... Then...... This will lead to..... And finally...'
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An opening strategy helps to develop a rapport with the audience and it should be well planned as
part of presentation. There are a wide range of strategies available, but they all attempt to connect the
audience to the content. Some example opening strategies are:
• A startling fact
• A cartoon
• A pertinent question
• An interesting statistic
• A dramatic visual aid
• Giving key information the audience needs
• Making the listener own the problem
• Telling jokes, anecdotes, bits of history, startling facts, etc.
The presenter should avoid telling a joke unless he knows it is going to work. If it falls flat, so will the
presenter’s confidence. One needs to ensure that the opening strategy does not take up too much
time and it suits the context and the content of the talk, thus ensuring the relevance and time of the
The Main Idea is how the purpose statement manifests itself in the talk: it is the explicit statement
made at the beginning of the talk that identifies a) the topic and b) the end goal of the talk. The
presenter should be very careful when using the phrase “talk about” in his statement, because it tends
to give only a statement of topic: “I’m going to talk about Project X” establishes a topic, but doesn’t
provide any further focus for the talk. Instead, the main idea should be based on a stronger verb.
One should use 'connective devices' to move from point to point, to help your audience follow your
thread of ideas, e.g.
• 'The next point I want to make is ...'
• 'From this we can see that ....'
• 'As a consequence ...'
• 'In spite of this, the results showed that ...'
• 'An example of this was when ....'
• 'On the other hand, it is also true that ....'
• “We’ll diagnose the problems with Project X and provide recommendations for mitigating
• “This presentation identifies the advantages of Bluetooth enabled computers and Local Area
Finally the presenter should ensure the following.
• Keep focused on what's important
• Ensure key ideas stand out
• Keep relevant and to the point, omit trivial details and waffle
• Provide the necessary evidence to support his conclusions
• Use clear examples to illustrate his points
These stronger verbs help to establish the goal of the presentation. Sometimes one will begin his
planning by establishing this statement; other times one might start in the middle to help to figure out
what one is trying to say. Regardless, the presenter needs a strong sense of purpose to motivate his
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The presenter giving an overview gives the listeners a mental roadmap of the whole talk, making the
structure explicit at the beginning. For example, if there are three reasons why the project is behind,
sketch them out quickly:
• “Project X is behind because the raw materials for High Performance concrete arrived late,
unforeseen weather delays prevented pouring on four days, and changing specifications
forced us to re-design two areas.”
• ·“First, we’ll explain what Bluetooth technology is, what it can do for Local Area Networks, and
how its low cost and ease of use gives it advantages over other networking solutions.”
When one is developing an overview, make sure that it contains actual information that is relevant to
the talk. Be careful not to provide a generic statement of structure, such as: “I’m going to explain
the problem, provide several solutions, evaluate them, and give recommendations.” This overview
could be applied to many talks because it says nothing specific, and is not particularly helpful for the
audience (especially if they are hearing more than one talk).
The Conclusion component of a presentation should provide a brief summary by referring to the
presentation’s main point(s). One need not to go over every single point or repeat the headings
stated at the beginning of the talk, but he should signal that his talk is coming to an end by using
phrases such as “in conclusion” or “to sum up” and reiterate your main idea.
• “By ensuring that our suppliers are held responsible for delays, building a sheltered mixing
area, and maintaining closer communication with the audience, we should be able to
smoothly get back on schedule on Project X.
• “Because it’s cheap and easy to implement, Bluetooth technology can make for effective and
easier to manage LANs.”
One might also like to indicate areas for further research or follow-up but don't introduce any new
material. The presenter should thank the audience for their attention and ask if there are any
comments or questions. One should be prepared for questions but if one cannot answer, shouldn't be
thrown, he should have some strategies to handle any tricky ones.
The last sentence coming out of presenters mouth is the Take Away Statement, which would also be
the last thing the audience remembers and should clearly identify a) that the talk is over (and to give
the audience the signal to applaud) and b) identify what the audience should take away from the talk,
or what they can do with the information given in the talk. One should not finish the talk by saying
“that’s it” – it may signal that the talk is over, but it doesn’t remind the listeners of what they should
take away from the talk. For example, a summary for the second sample talk, one could say:
• “So, the next time you’re untangling wires from printers, mice, keyboards, speakers etc. from
the back of your computers, think about easy managing a network of Bluetooth enabled
computers would be.”
Presentation Organization: Following key components should sandwich the body of the talk.
However, presentation planning also involves organizing the body of the talk. There are two steps in
organizing the body 1) identify the key points and 2) use an organizational method appropriate for the
presentation content and purpose. Some relevant organization structures are listed as per following.
• Visual Aids: Keep visual aids clear, simple and uncluttered. With overhead transparencies
and slides, avoid too many words and use key words only, not full sentences. Don't use a font
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smaller than 16 on OHTS -- even bigger is desirable. Break statistics down into easily
readable pie charts or graphs. If one have quantities of statistics you wish to convey to his
audience, do so on a hand-out.
• Chronological: Breaks talks into steps, organized by time; useful for process descriptions or
• Ascending or Descending Pattern: Sorts topics based on performance in predetermined
criteria, such as difficulty (easiest to hardest), size (smallest to largest), significance (least to
most important), or cost (inexpensive to costly.)
• Pro and Con: Divides talk into positives and negatives. Useful in evaluating; can be
objective or persuasive.
• Cause to Effect: Breaks material up in results and precipitating causes; can be speculative
(starts with causes) or analytical (starts with effects). Emphasizes ways one thing leads to
• Scientific Method: Follows reporting structure for lab work: purpose, methods, results,
discussion, and recommendations.
• Problem/Solution: Describe situation/ explain problem (or opportunity)/ explain solution
(include methodology if appropriate)/ justify solution.
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5 Practicing a Talk
A presenter should try to enjoy his presentation. He should look on it as a performance – one is a bit
like an actor playing a part. Even if he is not feeling confident and at ease, he pretends that he is. One
experienced speaker recommends having the first four minutes or so 'hot-wired' - so well rehearsed
that you know every word and gesture for that first few minutes. Practice is a key component towards
preparation for an effective delivery of a presentation. In order to accomplish specific goals, there are
different types of practices.
A self practice would help one to become familiar with the material one is delivering. It would also
develop a proper cadence and rhythm for his speech, and allow one to establish proper timing for his
As discussed in the previous section, Ideal presentation delivery is not usually achieved by reading
a prepared speech, but by engaging the audience through a natural, conversational style. If working
from notes, one can use these practice sessions to develop a familiarity with the material and to
develop/memorize key sentences that will anchor parts of his talk. If one is working from a
memorized text or reading a written speech, he should try not to sound like he is reading, and should
work on fostering natural, conversational delivery.
In oral presentations, it is very crucial to have control on timings. One should respect the given time
limit. In most situations – such as conference panels with a hard time limit and more than one speaker
– audiences do not have the luxury or the inclination to listen beyond the given times. In fact,
audiences tend to get annoyed if a speaker goes over significantly. When practicing, one should
ensure that he time himself. In order to get accurate timing, his practice sessions have to be
uninterrupted. Times in these practice sessions aren’t always accurate because they don’t mimic the
real conditions of delivery very well – but they will give you rough idea of whether or not you’re in the
One can practice in front of a mirror to help him maintaining his eye contact, using his gestures
appropriately, and making sure he is familiar with the material.
While working on eye contact, the presenter should ensure that he is actually engaging the audience
and sustaining the contact for more than a few seconds. Thus he makes sure that he is not just
looking in the general vicinity of the audience, but making actual contact with audience members. In
the mirror, the presenter should focus on his own eyes, and note when and how often you look away.
If he needs to look away even at his notes, every few seconds, he’ll need to become more familiar
with the content. A second or two at a time is not usually sufficient to connect with the audience.
Instead, focus on maintaining eye contact for sustained periods (if you need to, look at your notes for
longer periods as well).
If one have a large or full-length mirror, it can also be used to correct one’s posture and identify his
gesturing techniques. One should use this time to spot problems with his gesturing – too much or too
little – and identify areas in the talk where he can use gestures to add emphasis or meaning to his
A demo presentation in front of others is the best type of practice because it mimics the actual
conditions of delivery. In this situation, one has “one go” and can time his delivery more accurately,
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and should be able to practice eye contact, gesturing, and generally engaging the audience. If
possible, one should use this opportunity to test his familiarity and interaction with the visuals he plans
One can also ask his friends for feedback on the content and structure of the talk, and make sure that
the talk served the purpose that the presenter identified in the planning stage.
Other Practice Strategies: There are few other strategies related to gesture, voice, audience
reminder trick and enunciation. When working on effective vocal and physical delivery, one may want
to try some of these simple practice strategies; these shouldn’t be used in the actual performance, but
are useful for fine tuning specific aspects of delivery.
1. One can try performing the talk aloud and alone behind a locked door, as if one feels himself to be
a bad actor. He should go completely over the top and making huge sweeping gestures and
overdoing the words. The presenter should do this twice. As he do it the second time, he should try to
make mental note of key things like where the voice rises for emphasis and where one wants to make
The information one gains here shows the natural points of emphasis. That important information can
now be used in a “normal” version of the talk. Of course, one of the things one will find is that “normal”
has changed, as the speech becomes more energized.
2. An important aspect of presentation is making transition between points which is often most
neglected. Imagine one have an audience full of people with very poor short-term memories, but he is
trying to get through to them, in such situation one should deliver his talk repeating everything, and
using whatever transitions one may need to make that audience grasp his talk, without forgetting
points. Here are some useful transition words / strategies termed as Follow the Leader Practice.
• “First, … second, … third, …”
• “Now that we understand the background to the problem …”
• “Logically, this point leads to the second aspect of my talk …”
• “After this point …”
• “Now you can understand why …”
• “In conclusion…”
• “As a final afterthought …”
• “Thank you. Now, I’d be glad to respond to any questions.”
3. The presenter should choose a familiar bit of speech and use it to hone his delivery. One would be
best off to start with something other than his speech, and only apply it to his speech later. It is known
as the Eliza Doolittle Method, as in “My Fair Lady” Eliza had the accent knocked out of her with
Oral Communication – Group VIII Study P a g e | 11
speech lessons. We all need that. Finding our best pitch, our best tone and our best accent requires
practice. Speeches by Shakespeare, Churchill, or Martin Luther King Jr. all serve well as practice
points. Once a presenter has mastered one of these, then bring the same enunciation effort to his
talk. If one have an accent, he needs to learn this exercise taking particular care of sounds that may
trip your listeners. For example, many Chinese speakers of English struggle to distinguish “l” vs. “r”
etc., so one needs to work with these sounds, particularly if they appear in words that are central to
4. There is an exercise called the Mouth of Marbles Technique, which is designed to work with
one’s mouth muscles to help him enunciate more clearly. It is a good trick to do as shortly before one
talk as possible (as well as a regular exercise if one is doing a lot of speaking). One should place his
two fingers between his teeth and practice this speech:
o Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
o Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
o To the last syllable of recorded time
o And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
o The way to dusty death
After one have done it once or twice with his fingers between his teeth, remove the fingers and do it
again. One should take note of the sensation in his lips – those are muscles beginning to work. He
should do the same thing with the opening of his talk and then deliver the whole talk.
5. Handling anxiety during oral presentation is the top most challenge. According to the book of lists,
the fear of speaking in public is the #1 fear of all fears. (The fear of dying is #7!) Almost everyone
feels nervous when giving a presentation or speaking in public so if a presenter feels nervous, it is
perfectly natural and understandable. If one have prepared and rehearsed well, he will have done a
great deal already to reduce nervousness. Some of the key points to handle issue with anxiety are as
• If a presenter thinks that his hands might shake, it's another good reason to use cards instead
of paper for your notes. A4 sheets held between two shaking hands will draw one’s own and
everyone else's attention to the fact that he is nervous and will distract from the content of his
• Know the room and know the equipment. Something unexpected could cause one to fluster.
• Take some deep breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth, half a dozen times
before one start presenting.
• On the day, arrive early and greet people as they walk in and have a chat. This breaks the ice
and creates a nice relaxed atmosphere.
• If one is feeling nervous, don't call attention to it. The audience probably won't even notice.
Oral Communication – Group VIII Study P a g e | 12
• In the weeks/days leading up to one’s presentation, do some positive visualization. Sitting
quietly or lying in bed, imagine oneself standing in front of the group, feeling very calm and
relaxed, speaking in a loud, assured voice. Run this through one’s head like a videotape.
(Don't 'negatively rehearse' by imagining oneself blowing it.)
• Nerves can cause one to 'babble' and his ideas to race. One should not be afraid to take a
pause ... slow down ... take a breath. If one become confused and momentarily lose his
thread, shouldn't panic. Calmly one should check his cue cards and continue.
Oral Communication – Group VIII Study P a g e | 13
6 Performing a Talk
In Performance, one is simply doing what one has practiced many times before. It would help one to
maintain calm nerves and anxieties when one think of the actual performance about giving the talk.
Following are some of the main goals of a performance and strategies for achieving them.
1. Assuming an Appropriate Presentation Persona: When one is delivering a formal presentation,
he is “performing” as in a play in front of an audience. Though, one is not expected to appear artificial,
he is expected to play the part of a speaker. In this particular setting the presenter is expected as a
speaker very different from the person seen in the ordinary informal settings. This is a persona that
should look and feel quite natural, but also be elevated from the everyday person. For some,
assuming a presentation persona may include costuming – wearing a suit or getting more dressed up
than usual can help one assume the appropriate character.
2. In order to ensure Effective vocal delivery the speaker should includes appropriate volume, pace,
and natural speech.
The main point of speaker would be missed, if he can’t be heard clearly which would result that his
points would not be understood. Thus, adequate Volume is an essential component of effective
delivery. Even if one can be heard, speaking too softly means that that the audience expends energy
to trying to make out what one is saying; this may mean that they aren’t paying enough attention to
interpreting and understanding what one is saying. Generally the problems that presenters have are
with low volume, rarely are speakers so loud that their speech is distracting. One should speak loud
enough so that the further member of the audience can hear you comfortably.
Similar holds true for Pace. It appears that when nervous, presenters tend to talk too quickly, trying to
get the talk over as soon as possible. This fast pace results in the same difficulties that low volume
presents: the audience spends most of its energy in trying to make out the words being spoken, rather
than in interpreting or understanding what’s being said.
Ideally, a speaker should be able to speak naturally, as people do when they’re engaged in a
conversation, during presentations. However, presenters often fall back on a “reading” rhythm and
speech pattern, even if they’re working from notes. Though, it differs from person to person, What
constitutes “natural speech”, but it is usually marked by variations in pitch, tone, and pace, with
appropriate pauses, all of which add layers of meaning to the words being spoken. The best that one
can aim for is the speech that one can achieve when talking to friends on a topic one is confident and
passionate about, with a more little formality added in.
3. Positioning, eye contact, body language, and connecting to his visuals results into Effective
The speaker should determine the best place to stand as taking the position, before the audience
arrives. The best place is a) where one doesn’t block anyone’s view, b) where he can see the
audience, and c) where he can easily operate the projector / laptop and engage with the visuals. If
one is very nervous, anchor yourself with a podium or desk – but not by leaning back or sitting. That
Oral Communication – Group VIII Study P a g e | 14
is usually regarded as too casual. Instead, stand behind it, and use the desk as a front piece. During
the talk, one might consider moving around to make sure he is paying attention to the entire
If one actually engages with the audience through eye contact, he can also see whether people are
confused or bored. One can use that information to help you decide whether to move on, or spend
more time on a particular point. Just because a speaker doesn’t read from a speech or look at their
notes often doesn’t mean that they’ve made effective eye contact: they could be just being staring
outward or at other distractions, like their visuals. Effective eye contact is achieved when the speaker
actually engages the audience. Look into the eyes of audience members and confirm that they’re
looking back. This also requires that eye contact is sustained: looking at someone for a second
doesn’t achieve the same level of engagement as maintaining that contact for four to five
seconds. Thus, Eye contact is an important strategy for both connecting to the audience and getting
information from them.
Effective body language involves both posture and gesture. Posture communicates much about
confidence and attitude towards the audience and material. For example, slouching suggests a
casual attitude that may not be appropriate for formal presentations; leaning forward with hands on a
desk suggests an aggressiveness that may make the audience uncomfortable. An upright posture
communicates confidence and formality.
Gestures and movement can be used to deliver information as well. If you practiced gestures
beforehand, they will happen more naturally when it comes time to deliver. Some speech coaches
advocate “standing still” and that is generally good advice, but some excellent speakers move a lot.
Why? Because they are comfortable moving. If you look comfortable, your audience will be
comfortable too. Therefore, the general guide to appropriate gesture is “do what makes you
comfortable”. Obviously, some comforting gestures can be annoying – key rattling, jingling the
change in your pocket, picking your nose: these are called physical tics. However, if walking around
or talking with your hands makes you more comfortable, it probably also makes you more effective.
One should remember to focus on his audience, not the projector or computer monitor. Connecting
with one’s visuals and managing them correctly is also a key part of effective physical delivery.
When possible, the presenter should point at the relevant parts of the visual and direct the audience’s
attention, but don’t let his gesture to the screen lure you into reading from the screen or talking to the
screen. A shaky pointer blocking the view can also be very distracting.
3. Show Mastery: The presenter showing that he has mastery over his material gives his listeners
confidence in him and sets himself at ease. This can be as simple as showing that one is able to
operate the equipment. Another way to show one’s confident in his material is humour. It can lighten
dry technical talks, especially after some particularly heavy going. Cartoons can be an effective way to
draw parallels with points you are trying to make, if relevant. Even short verbal asides, rhetorical
questions, or anecdotes can go a long way to keeping audience interest.
One can also show mastery by taking control of the questions, during or after the talk, interaction with
the audience, checking with audience if they are able to follow him, or asking them simple questions
to see if they are live in the presentation.
Importantly, after the talk, the presenter should take control by managing the question and answer
period. He should always finish with a strong take away statement; allow the audiences clapping, and
then asking for questions. He should control the question period by choosing the speakers, preparing
Oral Communication – Group VIII Study P a g e | 15
oneself to handle certain questions beforehand, and taking the time to consider questions before
formulating a response. If he encounters a question that he can’t answer, acknowledge that he can’t
answer it, and tell them that he’ll consider that in the future or turn the question back on the audience.
If questions lead things astray, try to steer the topic back on track, otherwise audience participation
can drive things far away from the main points of the talk. Take discussions off-line if they are
consuming too much time or will not readily be resolved – suggest that he will check a fact or point
and respond to the questioner by e-mail or telephone. Feel free to interrupt debates among audience
members; after all, it's presenter’s talk.
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7 Supporting a Talk with Visuals
Visuals can help greatly to connect the listener with the content and plays an important part of oral
presentations. It can be used to highlight important information, explain technical concepts and details
that are difficult to explain through words alone.
Though, one have the same options with planning presentation visuals as are with writings, but one
need to adjust his visuals for presentation on a screen, further away from his audience.
While many of concerns outlined in using visuals in writing (apply to their use in oral presentations,
the following are particularly important in a presentation setting.
1. Each graphic should have a specific purpose in the presentation, thus the speaker should
identify its purpose and highlight key parts of visual which serve that purpose.
2. The visuals should be in sync with speech.
3. The title and labels hold the key to interpreting the graphics and its role in presentation, so
these should be paid better attention during preparation.
4. Landscape oriented slides allow you to use more of the space available on the slide, without
having to adjust the slide during the presentation, thus orientation of visuals is important in a
5. The titles and labels need to be readable from a distance. This means that text should be a
minimum of 18 point in size (24 point is typical).
6. While Times New Roman is typically the standard font for written documents, less print
oriented fonts with harder edges and fewer curves are more suitable for presentation slides.
Commonly used fonts for oral presentations include: Arial, Helvetica and Tahoma.
7. Using images from written document sometimes got stretched on a presentation. A low
resolution image to a larger size can result in fuzzy images that are difficult to interpret.
8. In an oral presentation, text based slides are common. They function to highlight the key
points and reinforce the structure of the presentation. However, text based slides also
encourage listeners to read, rather than listen. This is especially true if the presenter reads
the text of the slide: avoid this. To use text based slides effectively, minimize the amount of
the text on the slide by using note form instead of complete sentences, and leaving the details
for your speech, rather than on the slide.
9. The devices and programs we use to produce and display our visuals in oral presentations
present their own sets of dangers, thus one should be aware of the dangers of presentation
10. While using overhead slide projects / transparencies, one should make sure that he is
oriented himself with the project, ordered and prepared his slides well, as presenters can
waste a significant amount of time and lose points by putting slides on backwards or upside
down, flipping through their transparencies to find the right ones, and not placing the
transparency on the right spot or correctly aligning their slide.
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11. Using blackboards/whiteboards/flip Charts involves the danger that one will have to draw the
diagram on the fly – this can be a good thing, if the drawing is not too technical and one can
maintain his speech and contact with the audience throughout the talk. However, most
presenters will wind up with their back to the audience, focused on drawing, rather than
maintaining their rapport with the audience.
12. Some of the issues to deal with PowerPoint (any presentation software) are following.
• Make every effort to ensure that the technology works, but one should prepare for the
worst: many presenters have been humbled by a non-functioning, missing or
incompatible projector, cables or laptop.
• Avoid using Clip Art and animations, unless they have a specific purpose other than
decoration. Animations can slow down the pace of the talk or distract from the
content. The “Appear” animation is useful when well integrated with the talk; use it to
bring up points on screen when you discuss them. Clip art usually has little purpose
and only distract.
• Similarly, choose a presentation template wisely. Avoid garish and low contrast color
schemes that can make text difficult to read.
• When using PowerPoint, one has two dangerous distractions: the laptop screen and
the actual screen. Presenters often use the Slide Notes and Presenter View
functions instead of hard copy (on a sheet of paper or cue cards) notes. However, be
aware that presenters are much more conscious of eye contact when using hard copy
notes: one is less likely to read off his notes than one is to read off the computer
13. The amount of time that a slide is left on the projector is an important consideration in
planning. As a general rule, slides left on screen for less than 20-30 seconds don’t allow
enough time for the audience to digest the material properly. Slides should also not be left on
the projector after one has finished discussing the material on the slide – take off the slide
after one is done with it.
14. A related issue is the number of slides suitable for a presentation of X minutes. A general
guideline is a maximum of 2 x # of minutes in a presentation; anymore and one will be flipping
through slides too quickly. Note that the figure is a maximum, not a recommended number.
15. Slides can help to make the structure of the talk explicit at the beginning and throughout the
presentation. An overview slide is often useful while you outline the path of your presentation;
slide titles corresponding to the different components (sometimes numbered) of the talk
remind the audience of where they are in the talk.
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8 Self-Assessment Checklist
Did you introduce yourself to your audience? Yes No
Did you aim to arouse the interest of your audience? Yes No
Did you begin with a clear introduction of your topic with an overview of what you Yes No
Were your ideas presented clearly with a logical flow from one point to the next? Yes No
Did you conclude by summing up what you had covered? Yes No
Were your visual aids clear and easy to read? Yes No
Did you have good control of your material with everything in the correct order? Yes No
Did you give the right amount of facts and figures? Could your audience understand Yes No
Did you avoid reading too much from your notes? Yes No
Did you look comfortable and relaxed? Yes No
Did you display any nervous gestures, such as hand-waving or pen-clicking? Yes No
Did you look and sound interested and enthusiastic? Yes No
Was your voice loud enough to be heard? Yes No
Did you speak too quickly or too slowly? Yes No
Were there any words you had problems pronouncing? Yes No
Did you get your timing right? Too long? Too short? Yes No
Did you allow time for questions, and invite your audience to make comments (rather Yes No
than just asking, 'any questions?’)?
Did you provide hand-outs for people to take away? Yes No
Oral Communication – Group VIII Study P a g e | 19
1. Journal of Business Communication, Vol. 34, No. 1, 67-80 (1997)
2. Tufte, E. Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and
Narrative. Chesire, Conn. : Graphics Press, 1997.
3. Irish, R., Tiede, K. and Weiss, P. Oral Communication Course Notes. Engineering
Communication Program, Faculty of Applied Science and
Engineering,University of Toronto. 2004.
4. Andeweg et al. “‘May I have your attention?’ Exordial techniques in informative
presentations.”Technical Communication Quarterly. 7.3 (1998): 271-284.
5. D’Arcy, J. Technically Speaking: A Guide for Communicating Complex
Information. Columbus, OH : Battelle Press, 1998.
6. Learn Higher : http://www.learnhigher.ac.uk/learningareas/oralcommunication
7. LearnHigher Oral Communication Literature Review, Ravinder Chohan and Kate
Smith, Brunel University
8. Oral Communication across curriculum, Cronin Michael, Redford University VA
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