Spoken communication occurs in many different settings during the course of successful innovation and change. These may be divided into three main types:
- The formal and informal networks in which peers exchange information, such as professional associations, work units, work teams, etc.
- The activities of change agents, opinion leaders, etc.
- The contacts established at team meetings, conferences, training courses, etc.
Whether to use oral communication is a decision we all make frequently in the course of a workday. The change agent must be able to identify those situations in which oral communication is the most appropriate one to use. Don Kirkpatrick suggests the following
guidelines for making such decisions.
Use Oral Communication When:
The receiver is not particularly interested in receiving the message. Oral
- Communication provides more opportunity for getting and keeping interest and attention.
- It is important to get feedback. It’s easier to get feedback by observing facial
- Expressions (and other nonverbal behavior) and asking questions.
- Emotions are high. Oral communication provides more opportunity for both the sender and the receiver to let off steam, cool down, and create a suitable climate for understanding.
- The receiver is too busy or preoccupied to read. Oral communication provides more opportunity to get attention.
- The sender wants to persuade or convince. Oral communication provides more flexibility, opportunity for emphasis, chance to listen, and opportunity to remove resistance and change attitudes.
- When discussion is needed. A complicated subject frequently requires discussion to be sure of understanding.
- When criticism of the receiver is involved. Oral communication provides more opportunity to accomplish this without arousing resentment. Also, oral communication is less threatening because it isn’t formalized in writing.
- When the receiver prefers one-to-one contact.
There are different styles of making a presentation and different people will use the approach that suits them.
Good Old Boy: This is usually an experienced person who is the peer of most of the audience. Generally, there is a lot of good information but it may be poorly organized or poorly delivered.
The Entertainer: This person relies on jokes and stories to get their point across. Good visual aids could be an important feature of the presentation. Sometimes there is too much emphasis on satisfying the audience that little information is actually transferred.
The Academic: This person tends to be very precise and deliberate in presenting information. There is considerable content and it usually is well organized. Unfortunately. it can also be boring and irrelevant and not relate well to the audience.
The Reader: This person decides to read his material word for word. The material is often not especially prepared for an oral presentation and can be overly technical, boring and hard to understand. All topics are covered and what is said is precise and accurate.
The Snail: This person is nervous about the presentation and goes into a shell. Like a snail, this person also moves slowly and the presentation seems to last forever. What is best? You have to have a style you are comfortable with. Ideally, you have the rapport of the good old boy, the organization and content of the academic, the ability to get and maintain interest of the entertainer, and the precision of the reader. If you do this you will avoid the slow pace of the snail and effectively present information to your listeners.
The Gadgeteer: This person uses every gimmick and technique in his or her presentation and visual aids. It can be overdone with the message getting lost among the bells and whistles.
Components of an Effective Oral Report
Introduction Capture the attention of the group right from the start.
- Give the necessary explanation of the background from which the problem derived.
- Clearly state and explain the problem.
- Clearly state your objectives.
- Indicate the method(s) used to solve the problem.
- Suggest the order in which you will provide information.
- Provide sufficient introductory information.
- Use transitions from one main part to the next and between points of the speech.
- Use summary statements and restatements.
- Make the main ideas of the report clearly distinguishable from one another.
- Have adequate supporting data to substantiate what you say.
- Avoid using extraneous material.
- Present supporting data clearly–in terms of the ideas or concepts you are trying to communicate.
- Were the methods of the investigation clearly presented?
- Visual Aid Supports
- Use clear drawings, charts, diagrams or other aids to make explanations vivid and understandable.
- Make visual aids fit naturally into the presentation.
- Be completely familiar with each visual used.
- Don’t clutter your report with too many visual aids.
Conclude your report with finality in terms of one or more of the following:
- the conclusions reached
- the problem solved
- the results obtained
- the value of such findings to the county
- recommendations offered
- Give evidence of intelligent listening in interpreting the questions.
- Organize answers in terms of a summary statement, explanation, and supporting example.
- Show flexibility in adapting or improvising visual aids in answering questions.
- Be natural, “communicative” in your delivery.
- Use frequent eye contact to maintain rapport with the audience.
- Vary your delivery with appropriate movements and gestures.
- Speak distinctly.
- Display confidence and authority.
- Express enthusiasm for your ideas.