Speaking & Listening Skills: Oral Reports

Updated August 5, 2020 | Infoplease Staff
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How to Give an Oral Report

In many ways, planning an oral report is similar to planning a written report.

  • Choose a subject that is interesting to you. What do you care about? What would you like to learn more about? Follow your interests, and you'll find your topic.
  • Be clear about your purpose. Do you want to persuade your audience? Inform them about a topic? Or just tell an entertaining story?

An oral report also has the same three basic parts as a written report.

  • The introduction should "hook" your audience. Catch their interest with a question, a dramatic tale or a personal experience that relates to your topic.
  • The body is the main part of your report, and will use most of your time. Make an outline of the body so that you can share information in an organized way.
  • The conclusion is the time to summarize and get across your most important point. What do you want the audience to remember?


It's important to really know your subject and be well organized. If you know your material well, you will be confident and able to answer questions. If your report is well organized, the audience will find it informative and easy to follow.

Think about your audience. If you were listening to a report on your subject, what would you want to know? Too much information can seem overwhelming, and too little can be confusing. Organize your outline around your key points, and focus on getting them across.

Remember—enthusiasm is contagious! If you're interested in your subject, the audience will be interested, too.


Practicing your report is a key to success. At first, some people find it helpful to go through the report alone. You might practice in front of a mirror or in front of your stuffed animals. Then, try out your report in front of a practice audience-friends or family. Ask your practice audience:

  • Could you follow my presentation?
  • Did I seem knowledgeable about my subject?
  • Was I speaking clearly? Could you hear me? Did I speak too fast or too slow?

If you are using visual aids, such as posters or overhead transparencies, practice using them while you rehearse. Also, you might want to time yourself to see how long it actually takes. The time will probably go by faster than you expect.


  • Stand up straight. Hold your upper body straight, but not stiff, and keep your chin up. Try not to distract your audience by shifting around or fidgeting.
  • Make eye contact. You will seem more sure of yourself, and the audience will listen better, if you make eye contact during your report.
  • Use gestures. Your body language can help you make your points and keep the audience interested. Lean forward at key moments, and use your hands and arms for emphasis.
  • Use your voice effectively. Vary your tone and speak clearly. If you're nervous, you might speak too fast. If you find yourself hurrying, take a breath and try to slow it down.


Almost everyone is nervous when speaking before a group. Many people say public speaking is their Number 1 fear. Being well prepared is the best way to prevent nerves from getting the better of you. Also, try breathing deeply before you begin your report, and remember to breathe during the report. Being nervous isn't all bad-it can help to keep you on your toes!

One last thing

Have you prepared and practiced your report? Then go get 'em! Remember: you know your stuff, and your report is interesting and important.

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