How to Prepare for an Oral Report

Boy presenting a report
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If the thought of giving an oral report makes you queasy, you're not alone. People of all ages and occupations—even those with public speaking experience—feel the same way. The good news is that you can do a number of things to prepare and feel calmer during your talk. Just follow the tips below to gear up for a super performance.

Tips for Presenting

As with many things in life, delivering an oral report will be much easier if you take time to prepare for it. Preparation will give you confidence and help you focus on what matters when you're finally in the spotlight.

  1. Write your report to be heard, not read. There is a difference between words that are meant to be heard in your head and words that are meant to be heard out loud. You'll see this once you begin to practice what you've written, as some sentences will sound choppy or too formal.
  2. Practice your report out loud. This is very important. There will be some phrases that you will stumble over, even though they look simple. Read out loud when you practice and make changes to any phrases that stop your flow.
  3. On the morning of your report, eat something but don't drink soda. Carbonated beverages will give you dry mouth, and caffeine will affect your nerves and make you jittery. Stick to water or juice instead.
  4. Dress appropriately and in layers. You never know whether the room will be hot or cold. Either could give you the shakes, so prepare for both.
  5. Once you stand up, take a moment to gather your thoughts or relax. Don't be afraid to give yourself a silent pause before you begin. Look through your paper for a moment. If your heart is beating hard, this will give it an opportunity to calm down. If you do this right, it actually looks very professional, too.
  6. If you start to speak and your voice is shaky, take a pause. Clear your throat. Take a few relaxing breaths and start again.
  7. Focus on someone at the back of the room. This has a calming effect on some speakers. It may feel weird, but it doesn't look weird.
  8. Take the stage. Pretend you're a professional on TV. This gives confidence.
  9. Prepare an "I don't know" answer if people will be asking questions. Don't be afraid to say you don't know. You can say something like, "That is a great question. I'll look into that."
  10. Have a good ending line. Avoid an awkward moment in the end by preparing a strong conclusion. Don't back away, mumbling "Well, I guess that's all."

Other Advice

More generally, you can prepare for an oral report by deeply researching your topic and practicing your speech before a mirror or video camera.

  1. Know your topic well. If you feel confident about your knowledge, you will feel confident when it comes time to share that knowledge with others.
  2. If possible, make a practice video and watch yourself to see how you sound. Pay attention to your posture and tone of voice. If you have any nervous tics—such as saying "um" or "ah"—try to reduce them as much as you can.
  3. Don't pick the day of your report to experiment with a new style. It may give you an extra reason to feel nervous in front of a crowd.
  4. Walk up to your speaking location early to give your nerves time to calm down.
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Your Citation
Fleming, Grace. "How to Prepare for an Oral Report." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, Fleming, Grace. (2020, August 26). How to Prepare for an Oral Report. Retrieved from Fleming, Grace. "How to Prepare for an Oral Report." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 30, 2023).