Oral communication: introduction

Most of us have to make an oral presentation at some point in our lives. The following pages will help you to deliver an oral presentation with confidence. You will learn what should be considered before, during and after a talk.

Remember that the success of a good presentation lies in the preparation. Before you start anything, take the time to consider:

  • The audience – who are they, how many and what do they already know?
  • The occasion – is it formal or informal? A lecture, a debate, a speech?
  • The point – what is the purpose of the talk?
  • The environment – what is the size and layout of the room, and what facilities will be available (data projector, OHP, microphone, etc.)?

Once this has been considered, it’s time to gather, select and structure your material.


There are many sources of information available to you. Make sure you assess the authority (who wrote it?), currency (how up-to-date is it?) and accuracy of a source before you rely on it to support a point in your presentation.


Often when you are asked to give a talk you will need to distil a large amount of information into a short time period. You need to be ruthless in the way that you prioritise information. Too much information can confuse an audience.

  • What is relevant?
  • What can be left out?
  • What is supporting information?
  • Will handouts help?


A clear structure to your presentation will not only provide with you a clear path to follow, but also help your audience.

  • What are your main points?
  • In what order do they need to be discussed?
  • What secondary information should come under each of your headings?

Either side of your main argument, remember to write:

  • An introduction. This should welcome your audience, introduce the key themes of your presentation, and the order in which you will present them. This provides a ‘map’ for your audience.
  • A conclusion. This should summarise the main points of your presentation and perhaps introduce a final point or question to linger in the minds of your audience.

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