Preparing a persausive oral presesntation? I have an upcoming school assignment in which I and a partner must present a 10-12 minute persausive oral presentation to our class and teachers. The topic in which we must present is the issue of cyclists (in Melbourne, Australia) - whether or not they should be registered on our roads (there is currently no compulsory registration system for cyclists). The decision is ours, and we are assessed the same regardless of where we stand on the matter - it all comes down to our ability to persuade vocally [that's what they keep telling us anyway]. So, is there any general knowledge which I should probably be aware of regarding oral presentations? (I've never been particularly good at public speaking). Any tips or pointers are welcome. Also, if you have an opinion on this issue, please share, I don't particularly swing either way with this. So if you have anything substantial to add, please do. Being persuaded to one side or the other of this argument is surely the best way for me to persuade my audience also. Thanks very much.

Expert Answers

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Most persuasive arguments, whether they are oral or written, share certain key elements.

  • Make sure your audience knows where you stand quickly in your presentation. Your position doesn’t have to be the first thing out of your mouth, but it should come near the beginning to keep your audience from wondering.
  • Acknowledge the opposing point of view. You know that people will disagree with you. Try to think of the most likely reason why someone will take the opposite view.
  • Refute the opposing point of view. Come up with a good reason to show why the opposing view is wrong. This is persuasive because it will show an audience why you are right before they even have a chance to disagree.
  • Use an anecdote to help make your point.  An anecdote is a short story that helps prove your point. People love to hear stories and this can be a very effective part of a persuasive presentation.
  • Have some sort of visual aid. Make it very easy for the audience to see and understand. A poster full of small words won’t work--your audience won’t read it.
  • Make a lot of eye contact with the audience.
  • Ask you audience questions. Audience involvement is huge. But make sure you are ready to respond to whatever answer you get. If an answer to a question could stump you, don’t ask that question.
  • Conclude with a “call to action.” This is an appeal to your audience to do something specific to help solve the problem.
  • If you are not a very confident speaker, practice a lot first. Recite the presentation for several different people and get feedback from each of them.
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