Speech is one of the three fundamental communication modes. The ability to communicate through effective speaking is as important to language skill development as is the ability to write effectively. Competent, effective speaking is perhaps one of the best money-making skills a person can acquire. Such skills are important whether we are involved in casual conversation, explaining how to operate a machine to a fellow student, presenting a paper to a group of colleagues in a technical meeting, or attempting to convince your employer that you are grossly underpaid.
An oral presentation consists of three main parts: the introduction, body, and conclusion.
An introduction is a must. It "sets the scene" and engages the audience by motivating them to listen by relating the topic to their interests. The simplest introduction—merely letting the audience know who you are and what your presentation is going to be about—is inadequate for most audiences, topics, and assignments. Although a well-crafted introduction should be "succinct, " it should provide the audience with several pieces of information: • • • • • • •
Who you are and an accurate pronunciation of your name; Your qualifications to speak about the subject; The type of presentation (informational, instructional, problem-solving, etc.); Background information as needed; Your thesis; A preview of the the main ideas to be covered in the body; The procedure(s) to be followed during the presentation.
The purpose of an introduction is to quickly build rapport with your audience and gain their attention. You want the audience to be able to easily follow your thought process as you lead them into the body of the presentation.
The main part of the presentation is the body. The body must expound, explain, support, and defend the thesis revealed in the introduction. All main points must be covered. Use examples and illustrations for statements that are difficult for the audience to understand. Graphic illustrations and other visual aids not only help to clarify your message, but also add color and credibility.
The presentation should conclude with a well-planned ending. The following four points should be considered as you plan your ending. •
Summary: A clear summary of your purpose and main points will insure that the audience gets the big picture. It should answer the question, "So what?", telling the audience what was important about the information you conveyed. Use the same key words used in the body and make a fresh, brief, and concise re-statement of your case. This helps to drive your main points home and insures that your listeners have a clear understanding of your intentions. Emotional Response: If your speech is designed to arouse an emotional reaction, plan to make a strong appeal in the conclusion. Recommendations: If your presentation includes a recommendation, particularly one requiring action on the part of the audience, state it clearly as part of your ending. Plan the precise words you will use in your recommendation. Let your audience know exactly what you want them to do. Exit line: Do not flounder at the end. Make a crisp statement and end your presentation on a positive note. Plan and memorize the ending statement, then use it.
There are at least four methods for making an oral presentation. The best of these is the extemporaneous method; the worst is the impromptu method. The Toolworks Dictionary [CD ROM] defines extemporaneous (adj.) as "spoken with . . . preparation but not written out or memorized" and impromptu (adj.) as "without preparation or advance thought; offhand." In between these two are the memorization method and the reading method. The extemporaneous method involves significant effort but results in a degree of quality that tells your audience that you care about them. It requires • • •
The detailed laying out of...