Definition of an "Oral Presentation"

One saying is, "If you don't strike oil in 15 minutes, stop boring." This translates to giving engaging oral presentations in the workplace and in educational settings. Oral assessments come in a variety of formats, from multimedia projects to group work to speeches. An oral presentation simply involves explaining something to an audience. In the classroom, teachers grade these oral presentations based on the quality of the information presented as well as the method used in presenting it.

Types

An oral presentation is similar to giving a speech but is usually not just a person behind a lectern. Visual aids and teaching tools are used to further enhance the spoken words. An oral presentation can be given as an individual or as part of a group. It also might add components of technology, such as a slide show, video clip or audio recording. Another term for an oral presentation with technology or other aids is a multimedia presentation, indicating that forms of media are being used. Most oral presentations require the presenter to use a combination of spoken words and visual aids to present an idea or explanation to their audience.

Purposes

An oral presentation is most often assigned as part of class coursework but can have other purposes as a teaching tool. A teacher might assign students an oral presentation on a particular topic or set of topics that requires them to learn more about the subject. The presenting students then take on a teaching role in sharing that new information to the class through their presentation. Oral presentations are effective teaching tools in this way because they add variety to the classroom and allow students the opportunity to teach one another. A person with expertise on a skill or process utilizes an oral presentation to explain their knowledge about that subject to the assembled group. The group members can follow along and learn a new skill while watching the presentation. In the classroom, students might share an oral presentation in the form of a mock trial or instructions on how play a sport. A workplace presentation might involve sharing information on new technologies or a topic presentation at a related conference.

Skills

Oral presentations incorporate a variety of skills including intonation, eye-contact, speech preparation and engaging an audience. The presenter learns to hone their public speaking skills which includes keeping track of time and offering well-researched information. The presenter might also learn multimedia skills as they prepares visual and auditory aids for his presentation as well as research skills when studying the topic. If the presentation takes place in the classroom setting, the additional skill of teaching others a new subject is another benefit.

Technique

Clearly explaining your topic and paying attention to your audience are both important aspects of giving an oral presentation. Consider how much your audience knows about your topic in advance and teach them the information they do not know. Keep in mind that you may know all aspects of your topic but that your audience may not. For example, in the workplace, someone in the technology department would need to first explain the basics of a new technology before giving an oral presentation on the subject. The assumption would be that not everyone in the audience would know basic information on the topic and therefore, the presenter needs to offer that information first. Including visual or auditory aids may be helpful for increasing the engagement level of the group by breaking up the words in the speech. Incorporating technology into your presentation can make it more entertaining for your audience as well. This may also increase the likelihood of holding their attention through the entirety of the presentation.

Assessment

Teachers can assess student oral presentations in a variety of ways. The quality of the content is the first area assessed because the teacher can use a set rubric of required elements for all students. This rubric may not look at subject as much as looking for an in-depth information, well-referenced and researched presentation. Teachers look for a thorough explanation of the topic, a demonstrated solid understanding of that topic and an assessment of the quality of the speech elements. If the student speaks clearly, uses strong words and keeps focused on the topic, he will likely will earn high marks for that portion of the oral presentation. However, teachers also assess the creativity of the presentation and use of multimedia aids. The assessment may also include other criteria such as time allocation or group member participation. Students need to concentrate on all areas of the assigned rubric to put their best oral presentation forward.