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Oral Presentations

Dear Student,

You will be asked to deliver an oral presentation in conjunction with your English class.  Please read the following material that will instruct you as to how to carry out your assignments.

How to

  1. Introduce and conclude a speech with samples
  2. How to make an outline / sample

Speech Objectives:

  1. Organize ideas into clear, concise, understandable order, orally and in writing.
  2. Communicate ideas in a manner appropriate to the audience and occasion.
  3. Develop the ability to evaluate another speaker’s ideas and presentation.
  4. Improve listening skills.
  5. Increase self-confidence in speaking situations.

Assignment Requirements:

  1. Each assignment must be in proper form.  Directions must be followed or work will be returned to be redone.  Work that has to be redone will be penalized for lateness.
  2. All final outlines and formal assignments must be done in ink.  Only blue or black ink is acceptable.  Typing is recommended.   All assignments must be handed in on regular 81/2 x 11 paper with smooth edges.  Spiral paper is not acceptable.
  3. Unless you are told otherwise, only one note card, no larger than 4 x 6 may be used during your oral presentations.

Click here to view the speech assignments

  1. Speech To Inform On Job or Career
  2. Problem- Solution Speech (Current Event) 
  3. Speech To Inform With Visual Aids.
  4. Problem – Solution Speech (General - Personal)
  5. Speech To Convince With Evidence .



The first impression and the last impression are the speaker’s chief concern.  As a speaker walks onto the platform, as he greets his audience, as he says his first sentence, the audience is forming their first impressions of him as a speaker.  If their reactions are favorable, obviously his task is made easier.  If they mentally tabulate him as dull, uninteresting and boring, the minutes ahead are fraught with danger and hard work if the speaker is to transform his unwilling listeners into eager and attentive friends.  The first impression is important.  Bliss Perry advised his students at Harvard University to “attract by the first phrase”.

The last step in organizing a speech is developing the introduction.  After the central idea has been logically partitioned in the body, after the main points have been developed with clearly organized, interesting and pertinent supporting materials, and after the conclusion has been planned then the speaker knows to all intents and purposes what he is going to say.  The major part of his speech has been completed.  The introduction of the speech is, in one sense, an added part.  It is the part that prepares an audience to listen to the body of the speech.  Every introduction, then, must accomplish three ends: 

                (1) gain favorable attention (attention getter),

                (2) state the purpose and importance, and

                (3) make a transition to the main body of the speech. 

To achieve these goals, always, plan your introduction in terms of what your audience now knows, now believes, and now wants.  Don’t begin in terms of your own knowledge, belief, and desires.  Your introduction must always be audience-centered.

In your introduction, your first goal is to secure favorable attention for your specific purpose.  Ordinarily you will state the main idea of your speech early.  It is much easier for your listeners to follow you if they know where you are going.  Stating your purpose early is particularly wise if you think your audience is in sympathy with your purpose.  Regardless of whether you reveal your purpose relatively late in your speech or relatively early, you will still need to solve the problem of building favorable attention in the first few sentences of your introduction.  Here are ways of beginning a speech that should make an audience like you and your speech:


  1. Refer to your physical surroundings.  In your introduction you might refer to the temperature, the seating, the public address system or any other physical condition in the total speech situation shared by your and the audience.  The more dramatic the condition, the more effective the reference.  For example, one high school student spoke to his class on the need for a better building program in his school.  He began like this:  “As you sit here today behind theses scarred, poorly shaped, uncomfortable desks, as you look at these cracked, patched, undecorated walls, and as you breath this hot, stuffy, and unchanged air, I want to have you think with me about the need for a more adequate building program in our Cityville schools.”
  2. Refer to your audience.  In this type of introduction, the speaker takes advantage of the self-interest of his listeners.  A high school debater used this technique in a contest debate on the goals of education.  He began, “Tonight, by actual count, there are twenty-seven members in our audience.  Look at yourselves carefully, ladies and gentlemen.  You represent that important minority in America which is still more interested in public education than in staying home this stormy night.” 
    • Although somewhat bitter, this introduction gained the quick attention and approval of the best ways of leading into a speech.  The personal element directly involves the audience in a speech.
  3. Refer to the significance of the occasion.   Don’t abuse this method; many events are not really significant.  A city wide meeting had been called to dedicate a memorial to the former students of the local high school who had lost their lives in the last war.  The principal was speaking to an audience that included most of the parents of these students.  He began: “We are here tonight to pay tribute to the seventeen former students of our high school who lost their lives while serving in the armed forces of our country.”
  4. Use a Startling Statement.  Things that startle and shock us, seize our attention.  If you can catch the imagination and attention of your listeners in this way and then follow with your main ideas, you’re off to a good start.  For example, suppose your topic is the “The Influenza Epidemic”.  Your opening sentence might be like this:
    • Before this week ends, one person in this room will be dead.  There is some comfort in that figure, thought, because it may be only a statistical death.  Records show that the influenza epidemic raging in this city is claiming every week one life in thirty.  You may be lucky, but the death rate is tragic.  Etc…
  5. Use Suspense.  Tease your audience, keep its curiosity at a high pitch, and then reveal the point of your speech.  For examples, a student speaking on the subjects “Time” opened his talk with these sentences:
    • It is the most talked-of subject in town.  Every family in the community discusses it at the dinner table.  You mentioned it to at least one of your classmates before you came into the room today.  You thought about it at least once before and during the class.  Its effect on everyone is inevitable.   What is it?  It is time.  Let us discuss…
  6. Ask a Pertinent Question.  To ask a pertinent question is a simple and sure way of getting your audience to think with you.  You arouse curiosity at the same time that you make clear what your subject is.  Here are the opening remarks of a student whose subject was “How Long Will You Live?”
  7. Open with a Strong Quotation.  What someone else says is nearly always of interest to people, particularly if the person quoted is well known and respected.  Quotations that are famous and easily recognized establish a feeling of familiarity with the subject and create in the audience a mood of acceptance toward the idea you intend to present.  Here is a sample introduction on the topic “The Finer Things in Life”.
    • “Man cannot live by bread alone.”  That’s a Bible quotation the truth of which has been recognized for thousands of years.  It means that food and drink are not enough to sustain man, that practical things are not sufficient to keep man content,  that man has a soul and yearns for the finer things in life.
  8. Use a Good Illustration.  We all have curiosity about incidents, events, and people.  Use an example or illustration, one that has human interest value, and you’ll put your audience in a listening mood.  For the topic “Home Accidents” these sentences would make a good beginning.
    • Douglas Keller was a prominent young instructor in journalism at Duke University.  At 8:15 on the night of October 15, he decided to take a bath.  Because he wanted to finish reading an article while he sat in the tub, and because the bathroom light was poorly located for good reading, he moved a standing lamp from his bedroom and placed it beside the tub.  Then he got into the tub, relaxed, and began to read.  There was glare from the light that bothered him a bit, so he reached up to shift the lamp slightly, and his hand came into contact with the socket.  You know what happened.  The doctor, who arrived too late, shook his head and said, “Far too many people die from accidents like this.”
  9. Tell an Anecdote or Make a Humorous Reference.  Humor is difficult to handle.  Beware of using it for a beginning.  Its effectiveness depends on your ability to put the point across at the same time that you put your listeners in a receptive, relaxed mood.  If your effort fails, you’re off to a bad start.  Here is a good sample of an effective humorous beginning for a speech on “Thrift”:

I was discussing the dairy situation with a farmer friend recently and during the course of the conversation he remarked, “I have been experimenting with a cow.  I’ve been using a toothbrush on the cow’s teeth – now she’s giving dental cream.”

Yes, people seem to experiment with everything these days, don’t they?  We have an interesting little experiment going on in our own community and although it hasn’t given and dental cream as yet, it is providing us with the cream of the crop in the way of civic improvement.  I refer, of course, to the attempt at student government being conducted by our local high school.

In order to understand this innovation clearly it will be necessary to analyze its origin, answer a few questions concerning its operation, and determine its value to the community.

  1. Issue a Challenge.  Practically everyone takes a dare at one time or another.  A mental dare helps to keep listeners awake and alert.  This is the way a speaker opened a talk on “Our Grading System”:

Quarterly grades were handed out last Monday and what grumbling there was!  The most frequent complaint I heard in the halls as “I didn’t get a fair grade.  The system is all wrong.”  A comment to which I should like to say, “Nuts”.  I dare any of you to find a fairer grading system than we have here in our school now.  What if you don’t like the numbered ratings of 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5?  All systems are basically the same.  Teachers may give A’s, B’s, C’s, D’s, and F’s; or they may rate us as Excellent, Good, Fair, Passing, and Failures.  Even if they used terms like Sensational, Magnificent, Stupendous, Colossal, and Super colossal – the results would be the same.  It isn’t likely we’ll get a better system than ours, and I can prove it.


General Tips for the Introduction:

  • Memorize your opening sentence.  Starting off without faltering, stumbling, or repeating yourself will give you assurance and your audience a good impression.
  • Get to the point.  Tie your introduction in with your subject and purpose as quickly and effectively as possible.  Early ramblings may lose your listeners for you beyond recovery.
  • Have faith in yourself.  Don’t apologize for your preparation or for what you have to say.  Explanations of this sort not only slow the beginning of a speech but also tend to lose for you the respect and interest of the audience.
  • Open with short, forceful sentences.  Short sentences have a directness that lends them punch.  Long sentences, because they are harder to say and harder to follow, create an obstacle for both the passer and the receiver.
  • Make your opening inviting.  Let every listener feel that you’re talking to him and that he’ll enjoy going along with you.  Make him feel included – and wanted – in the sharing of your experience.



It is just as important to stop smoothly as it is to start that way.  You must be in control of your speech all the way from start to finish in order to give your audience the feeling of having had just enough – not too much or too little.  “Leave your audience before they want to leave you, is a good warning.

The specific functions of your conclusions will vary from speech to speech.  Here, however, are the usual functions of the conclusion.  Learn them and use them to greatest advantage.

  1.  Summarize your main ideas.
  2. Reinforce your specific purpose.
  3. Secure audience acceptance of your specific purpose.

You may end a speech with almost any of the devices used in that particular speech.  Some even use the very same quotation with which they began.  Once good technique is to describe in your conclusion the essential proposal of your introduction, then suggest the desirability of accepting your proposal.


Some of the different types of conclusions:

  1. Central-point summary.  This type is a bit more complex that he single-sentence summary.  Although you need not review every point, you should try to give an overall picture of those covered in your speech.  Make a clear, forceful restatement of your specific purpose.
  2. Point-By-Point summary.  This calls for repeating precisely and in the original order each of the main points of your speech.  Such a summary leaves a clear-cut impression with your audience when your speech intended to persuade.
  3. As previously suggested you may end a speech with almost any of the devices used in that particular speech.  It is a very good idea to tie the introduction with the conclusion.  (Use the same type.)


General Tips for The Conclusion

  • Don’t’ bore your audience by being long-winded and rambling.
  • Don’t introduce any new material in your conclusion.  This is not place for a new illustration, another last minute argument, a suddenly remembered clever expression.  What’s done is done.
  • Don’t stop too abruptly.  Your talk must be rounded off smoothly. Not left jagged.
  • Don’t use long involved sentences.  Short ones – remember?



Below is a sample outline in complete sentences.

 If you will study it carefully, you will note that every statement is a complete statement and a complete sentence. 

There are no incomplete or compound sentences. 

The outline is logically organized and divided into three parts – the introduction, body, and conclusion.

I.  Introduction

                A.  Stuttering is a speech disorder commonly characterized by repetitions and prolongations

                      of sounds.

                B.  Stuttering is not respecter of persons.

                                1.  It affects the rich and the poor, the great and the unknown.

                                2.  There are approximately 1,400,00 stutterers in the United States.

II.  Body

                A.  Numerous theories exist concerning the causes and cures of stuttering.

                B.  Authorities disagree as to its causes and cures.

                C.  Quack theories and cures are advertised nationally.

                                1.  These are often very expensive.

                                2.  While some stutterers think they are cured by quick-cure therapies, their

                                      trouble usually return.

                                3.  Stutterers can be helped.

                                                a.  Many college and university speech departments offer reliable help

                                                     to stutterers.

                                                b.  Some private speech clinics are of assistance to stutterers.

                D.  Much research on stuttering is in progress.

                                1.  This research offers hope toward discovering new information about stuttering.

                                2.  There is no single cause or cure for stuttering.

III.  Conclusion

                A.  Stutterers should not give up hope.

  • Below is a sample copy of notes a speaker might use in presenting a five to six minute speech on stuttering. 
  • Observe that each word stands for an idea and that each word is large enough to be easily seen at a glance, a 3 x 5 or 4 x 6 card will do.
  • Speaking notes should serve only as a guide, not as a crutch.  The actual speech should be in the mind of the speaker, not in a mass of notes.


  1.  Respects no one.
  2. Theories
  3. Colleges
  4. Clinics
  5. Research
  6. Hope for stutterers