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UNIT 9


ORAL PRESENTATIONS


INTRODUCTION
Although you make some use of all the means of communicating, you spend most of your time communicating with your voice.
Speech is an important part of a person's personality - it is individually and particularly his or hers. To many people, the speech is the person. The words one uses, the way he or she puts them together, the sound of the voice (tone, pitch, volume, and rate), and the enunciation and pronunciation all add up to the personality that others hear. A person can't separate your voice from the personality.
Effective speech, whether in a formal or an informal situation, depends upon factors other than the words spoken. The setting, or atmosphere, in which words are used often, determines how they are received by the listener. Just as a successful play or motion picture must have the proper setting, musical background, and costumes, so must successful speaking have the appropriate atmosphere. Therefore, before learning the elements of effective speaking, you need to learn how to create a favorable impression that will set the stage for the best reception of what you say.
The length and nature of talks vary. You may be asked for some brief remarks to introduce another speaker, or you may be asked to be a member of a panel discussion group. On the other hand, you may be invited to give a five-or ten-minute talk or even to present a longer speech at a meeting. Your success in any one of these roles will depend upon how carefully you plan your presentation. Only with careful planning will you be able to develop the feeling of confidence that will enable you to communicate your ideas to others, for an effective talk is the result of more than just knowing your subject. Not only do good speakers know what they are talking about, but also they know how to prepare and deliver the speech.

I. PLANNING YOUR ORAL PRESENTATION
Every good talk requires careful preparation. The speaker-to-be must be ready to cover the subject thoroughly and must carefully organize the presentation. Use the following guidelines to help you prepare your talk.
1. Determine Your Purpose and Topic. First of all, you must know the purpose of your talk.
The General Purpose
Most authorities recognize three possible general purposes:

  1. to inform, (2) to persuade, and (3) to entertain.

To Inform
When you try to teach listeners or to explain something to them, your general purpose is to inform. The classroom lecture is an example of an informative speech. Some informative speeches are intended to acquaint the listeners with something completely new to them. That's what Brenda White, a personnel director, is doing when she explains to a group of new employees the company's benefit program. Some informative speakers try to update listeners who are already somewhat knowledgeable about the subject. For example, when officers of credit unions attend the annual meeting of their trade association, they hear many informative speeches of this type.
To Persuade
The second general purpose of public speaking is to persuade the listener. Persuasive speeches range from those that seek to change listeners' beliefs or attitudes to those that attempt to get them to act in a certain way. Your purpose for giving a persuasive speech can be put into two very general but distinct categories: (1) to elicit a covert response, and (2) to elicit an overt response.
A covert response is, as the word implies, not readily apparent to the speaker or to an observer. When a union leader seeks to convince the members that the union has their interests at heart, the speaker is seeking a covert response, acceptance of an idea. It is usually difficult to evaluate a speaker's effectiveness when the response being sought is covert.
Evaluating a speaker's effectiveness is easier when the speaker is seeking an overt response, one that is observable and measurable. The manager who tries to get the billing clerks to reduce their errors can check future error counts for evidence of effectiveness. The production manager who urges increased output from workers can also measure results easily.
To Entertain
The third general purpose of speaking is to entertain - the response sought from the listeners is enjoyment. Many persons consider entertainment and humor to be synonyms, but they are not. Humor is certainly a common ingredient of entertainment, but it is not the only one. Perhaps you have had a teacher who thoroughly entertained the class with little or no humor. Some speakers who are enthusiastic about their subject entertain their listeners. Others are able to entertain through their flair for drama or through their picturesque language.
The Specific Purpose
While there are only three general purposes for making a presentation, the number of specific purposes is infinite. The specific purpose of a speech is constructed with both the subject and the audience in mind.
The following examples suggest the relationship among subject, audience, general purpose, and specific purpose.

Subject The collection of delinquent accounts
Audience A class of undergraduate business students
General purpose To inform
Specific purpose To explain techniques commonly used by business organizations to collect past-due bills from customers.
Subject The collection of delinquent accounts
Audience Professional association of collection officers
General purpose To inform
Specific purpose To explain the latest approaches to the collection of delinquent accounts.
Subject Use of nuclear energy for generating electrical power
Audience Approximately 100 members of a neighborhood home-owners association
General purpose To persuade
Specific purpose To persuade listeners to write their member of the provincial legislature expressing opposition to increased reliance on nuclear energy.
These examples indicate that while the general purpose may remain the same, the specific purpose varies according to the audience. Although the three general purposes are usually thought of as separate and distinct, they are not.
Very few speeches are entirely informative, persuasive, or entertaining. Most are, in fact, a combination of two or three of these general purposes.

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