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Effective Oral Communication. Some Trivia. In a documented survey of people’s fears, the highest (by far) group were those who were afraid of “speaking in front of a group (34%) … only 8% said they were afraid of dying!!!.

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Effective Oral Communication

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Effective Oral Communication

Some Trivia

  • In a documented survey of people’s fears, the highest (by far) group were those who were afraid of “speaking in front of a group (34%) … only 8% said they were afraid of dying!!!

  • Presenting, whether to a group of 2 or 200, uses the same communications techniques you use effectively every day

  • Groups don’t come to watch you. They want to hear what you have to say, how you can help them, or be inspired or entertained.

  • American audiences and groups are very forgiving and very sympathetic

  • Americans are very poor listeners

  • A typical listener will forget 40% of what they have heard in a presentation within an hour, 60% by the end of the day, and 90% within a week. Key points must be made effectively and often.

Mini-course in Public Speaking

  • Here is Edward R. Murrow’s course

    • Tell ‘em what you’re gonna’ tell ‘em

    • Tell ‘em

    • Tell ‘em what you told ‘em

  • How do we get our message across?

    • 7% of interpersonal communication is traceable to words

    • 55% is the result of body language and facial expressions

    • 38% is how we use our voices (tone, inflection, pauses)

My Mini-course in Presenting

  • Be prepared and be yourself

  • Speak slowly, clearly and with variety

  • Maintain eye contact, be enthusiastic and smile

Some Favorite Quotes

  • “If I don’t reach them in 5 minutes, I won’t reach them.” Father Tom Oemler (1989)

  • “Without data, you are just another opinion.” Jerry Schuerholz (1993)

  • “You can’t stand in front of the Board of Directors and say: ‘Hey you bunch of dumb guys, you’re doing this all wrong!’” Bud Knavish (1958)

Mental Preparation

  • Remember, the group is not there to watch you. They are there to learn and be helped, guided, inspired and/or entertained

  • Don’t complicate the message. The best speakers are easy to listen to.

  • Get so absorbed in your subject or mission that you have no time to worry.

Build Your Confidence

  • Observe your own use of communication skills in daily life

  • Give and receive positive and constructive feedback

  • Be mentally and physically enthusiastic

  • Be prepared – practice – be sincere –be yourself

  • Dress better – you will feel better!


  • Warm-ups are important.

    • Exercise your voice and your body before you speak to help relax

    • Take some deep breaths

    • Be Yourself!

Preparation for Delivery

  • Knowing your presentation is better than reading it or memorizing it.

  • Oral language is different from written language

  • Writing and memorizing a presentation “freezes” it

    • You can miss important feedback clues i.e. smiles, wrinkled brows, etc.

  • Many good speakers read poorly

  • American audiences and groups prefer extemporaneous speaking.

Lectern and Platform Techniques

  • Approach with confidence

  • Pause and relax

  • Take a deep breath, look up, and SMILE

  • If you make a mistake, or have a momentary “panic attack”

    • Pause and relax

    • Take a deep breath, look up, and SMILE

  • Don’t be afraid to ad lib a comment, such as “Let’s try that again” or “Give me a moment”


  • Wait for things to settle down

  • Remember, you are in control

  • If you try to compete with distractions, you will invariably lose!

Four Steps to Effective Messages

  • What do I want to communicate?

    • What key points do I want the listeners to remember?

    • What do I expect them to do with the message?

    • What do I expect them to pass on to others?

  • Who are the people receiving the message?

    • The words, examples, how, and when you send the message should be determined largely by your intended audience

    • You have to send a message the audience members will understand

  • Why should they listen?

    • What addresses their needs and will help them solve their problems.

      • If you want to get your message across, you have to demonstrate that your message is relevant to your audience

      • Ask yourself, “How can I present my message in a way that relates to a problem, need, or concern they have?”

  • Use only words, phrases, and illustrations you are sure will be understood

    • Constantly ask yourself, “How can I simplify this point and make it more direct?”

    • If the content of your message is technical, ask yourself, “How can I present the same information in a non-technical way?”

Four Steps to Effective Delivery

  • Dress appropriately.

    • Wear something comfortable and conservative. Avoid bright white shirts, large jewelry and brass buttons or anything that could cause a distraction

  • Maintain eye contact with the audience.

    • Look for a friendly face at the center of the room and deliver your introduction to that person.

    • Then continually move your gaze around the room, giving each thought to a different person.

3. Vary your tone of voice and speed of delivery.

  • Show enthusiasm for your topic with your voice.

    • Do not speak too quietly, too slowly, too loudly or quickly.

    • Do not use verbal fillers such as, "um," "uh," and "you know." Instead, pause silently.

      4. Use gestures and facial expressions effectively.

  • Smile at the audience.

  • Use hand gestures when appropriate.

  • Between gestures, rest hands at your sides or lightly on the podium.

  • Lean slightly forward.

  • Move away from the podium, if possible.

Presentation Introduction

  • An introduction can be informal and usually serves to:

    • Gain the groups attention

    • Promote speaker acceptance

    • Focus the listener attention on the subject

  • An introduction may not be necessary in business settings

    • But you still may want to open with an informal remark

      • Reference to what has just occurred

      • Comments about something familiar

      • Complimenting the group or organization

      • Making a humorous remark

  • The Formal Opening, however, should grab your listeners and make them want to hear the rest of your talk

    • Start with

      • An anecdote. A story related to the material that can be funny. Avoid jokes or comments that can backfire

      • A prop. Something tangible can create interest and embed ideas

      • The bottom line. Hit them in the heart, pocketbook, et. A serious question or comment for deliberation is excellent.

  • Set the stage

    • “Tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em

      • Why it is important to them

      • Why they are going to enjoy what you have to say

    • Memorize the introduction and/or opening

      • Make use of all appropriate communications tools

      • Make your point emphatically to your listeners

Presentation Conclusion

  • The ending of your presentation should include

    • A summary of all key points

    • A restatement of your message

    • A call for action or final reflections on the feeling you want to leave with your group

  • The ending could be a question, a challenge or some other form of subtle persuasion

  • Like the beginning, your ending should be memorized.

    • This is your last chance to make your points

The Body of the Presentation

  • The body contains the core of your message, including

    • Information and details

    • Supporting data and statistics

    • Research and findings

    • Evidence of proof

  • If the presentation is meant to be entertaining or inspirational it may contain

    • Stories

    • Incidents

    • Accomplishments

    • Quotes

    • Letters

    • Etc.

  • Challenges

    • Keep it interesting

    • Support statements with details and facts

    • Build on the message of the opening

    • Set up the message of the closing

  • Preparation

    • Brainstorm your topic for ideas

    • Outline your ideas

      • If you use traditional formats, leave room for additions or notes

      • Consider “Mind-Mapping” as an alternative

Mind Mapping

  • Mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks or other items linked to and arranged radially around a central key word or idea.

    • It is used to generate, visualize, structure and classify ideas, and as an aid in study, organization, problem solving, and decision making.

  • Research your points.

    • This may be as simple as referencing personal notes, talking with knowledgeable co-workers, etc.

  • Live with your outline and evolving presentation

    • Carry a paper and pen with you

  • Prepare the answers to the three toughest questions you may be asked

Putting it all Together

  • Composing

    • Outline your talk

      • Traditional or mind map

      • Allow for smooth, logical flow in your own style

    • Verbally begin to connect the points into simple, cohesive messages.

      • Your presentation will be skillfully connected to messages, not a litany of points and ideas

        • Read articles, or other’s speeches to see how professionals accomplish this.

        • Clarity, simplicity and repetition are key to the listener

  • Delivery

    • The use of tools is important to hold the group’s attention and help make your points emphatically and effectively.

  • Visuals

    • People remember what they see

  • “Signal Words”

    • “I want to underscore,” “In conclusion”

  • Themes or phrases

    • “We are more than just clean water”

  • Grouping words in triplets

    • “Of the people, by the people, for the people”, “Good, bad or indifferent”, “Lock, stock and barrel”

  • Personalize

    • Use of direct forms

      • “I conclude …”, “You may notice …”, “We must realize …”

    • Remember, these are your listeners!

  • Don’t forget the tools we have already learned

    • Eye contact and body language

    • Vocal variety

    • Critical pauses

Don't just talk ...


Paint a Picture!

Persuasive Presentations

  • Require a more focused awareness of the listeners

    • Needs

    • Moods

    • Feelings

  • Reading your group requires eye contact and perception.

    • Be alert to smiles, frowns and nods, etc.

  • Group feelings during persuasive speeches

    • “ SO WHAT?”

    • “WHO CARES?”

    • “WIIFM?” (What’s in it for me?”

  • Basic Approaches:

    • Speaker-Centered

      • The speakers perception, ideas and needs

    • Group-Centered

      • The listeners needs, concerns and beliefs

  • Benefits vs. Features

    • FEATURESare tangible or non-tangible characteristics that enhance a product or service

    • BENEFITS are the outputs of features that truly answer the groups WIIFM questions


Safety program on protective glasses


Heightens awareness of dangerous situations

Exposes dangers of improper protection

Reduces exposure to sight-threatening incidents

Supports prevention of off-time accidents

Minimizes risk of sight loss

Reduces chance of pain and inconvenience

Saves out of pocket medical expenses


You sell your idea,

concept, product, etc.

when your listeners

see it is good for them.

  • Final Review

    • Know your group

    • Put yourself in their seat

    • Is your talk accurate, understandable and interesting?

    • Is it yours? Can you be yourself?

    • Will it properly affect and impact your listeners?


The Most Persuasive Words

Get Into Your Persuasive Presentation

  • Tell your listeners why it is good for them.

    • Downplay the negatives

      • You may want to address them head on to deflate opposition

    • Accent the positives

      • Highlight, Illustrate, Use tools

    • Use facts and be specific

      • Name names, places, events, statistics, etc.

    • Sell the benefits

      • Bridge ideas and plant seeds

    • Don’t bad-mouth opponents or competition

      • Professionalism shows confidence

  • During your presentation … listen

    • As a speaker, you must be a good listener

      • With your eyes during the talk

      • With your eyes, ears, and heart during comments or Q & A

      • Avoid pre-judging based on anything

  • Adjust to your listeners

    • Reading your listeners requires eye contact and perception.

      • Be alert to smiles, frowns, nods, etc.

  • Key dimensions in a persuasive environment:

    • Oral Communications:

      • The ability to verbally convey thoughts and ideas in a clean, unambiguous and effective manner

    • Oral Defense:

      • The ability to effectively define thinking and conclusions and explain reasoning

  • Social Sensitivity:

    • The perception of subtle cues in the behavior of others concerning aspects of their needs

  • Behavior Flexibility:

    • The ability to modify behavior, when motivated, to reach a goal

  • Ability to Influence Others:

    • The ability to affect other people’s attitude, opinions, or behavior without generating resentment.

Handling Questions and Answers

  • Question and Answers

    • Stimulate the listeners and focus them on you & the subject

    • Allow you to re-emphasize points and bridge to benefits

    • Give you an opportunity to introduce new material

  • Pointers

    • Prepare the most difficult questions and good answers

    • Turn negatives to positives and bridge to benefits

    • Refine and simplify your answers

      • Should be clear, understandable and positive

    • Pause and think before answering

      • Not ready, fire, aim!

  • Problem Questioners

    • Several kinds of problem questioners

      • Supporter

      • Detailer

      • Negator

      • Filibusterer

      • Sharpshooter

    • Tips

      • Deflate “loaded” questions

      • Break multiple questions down into parts

      • Decline hypothetical questions or turn into real questions

    • If you don’t know the answer, admit it and explain why

      • Offer to follow up

Stop when you have made your point!

Always leave the platform on a positive note.

Last Minute Preparations

  • After your preparation and as the date and time of the presentation arrives, take a few precautions:

    • Make sure you have arranged for any special equipment

      • Be sure you have extra bulbs, markers, extension cord, etc.

    • Confirm the date, time and location

    • Arrive early and check out the room arrangement

  • If the situation permits, say a few lines and adjust to the acoustics

  • Take a walk, relax, and exercise your vocal cords

  • Drink water or hot tea with lemon. Avoid milk, ice cream, etc.

  • Have some water nearby the platform

Don’t Forget the Basics

  • Preparation breeds confidence

  • Approach the lectern with confidence.

    • Pause

    • Relax

    • Take a deep breath

    • Look up

    • Smile

  • Don’t compete with distractions

  • Tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em, tell ‘em, then tell ‘em what you told ‘em.

  • Grab them with the introduction and drive it home in the closing

  • Keep the body interesting and colorful … not a litany

  • Prepare answers to the three toughest questions you might get

  • Turn negative questions to positives and bridge into benefits

  • If you feel yourself slipping, pause. Take a deep breath. Look up and smile.

Use the tools and techniques of the experts …

… but be yourself!

Enjoy the experience!

Any Questions?

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