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Overview. This oral presentation is the result of an agreement between the owner of the company and the consultant giving the presentation. The owner of the car dealership has requested information to be researched on airbags and delivered to the sales force. This presentation, given at a time when there was some concern about the safety of airbags, will help sales people address customers' concerns.
Context explanation. As in the classroom presentation of oral reports, you must start by explaining the situation in which the oral report occurs and the audience. Enable people in the classroom to understand who they are supposed to be as the audience. Keep this explanation of the context separate from the actual oral report. Notice that the details on the context are rather minimal—when you give an oral report to your technical-writing class, explain the context more fully (as is done in the overview just above).
Introduction to the oral report. The introduction to an oral report is critical: you must:
First part: current airbag usage and plans for the future. The first part of this oral report goes into the first topic cited in the overview back in the introduction: "new technical advances in airbags, including new locations within the automobile." Notice that some clarity is missing here: the first part actually discusses current airbag usage as well as plans for the future.
Second part: smart airbags and sensors. This second part of the oral report discusses how sensors can be used to make airbags "smart." Notice that the strong lead statement for this topic occurs after the preceding paragraph has already quietly started the discussion. In that sensors enable airbags to be "smart," this preceding paragraph should be worked into the one on sensors.
Third part: new airbag materials. Not much here, huh?
Fourth part: safety concerns. This section makes up for the disappointing one on new materials.
Last part: conclusion. The presenter of this oral report wraps things up by discussing what federal government and industry are doing to ensure the safety of airbags and to enable them to provide even greater safety in collisions in the future. This conclusion ends rather abruptly, remaining focused on the safety issue (the last topic) rather than backing away from the report as a whole and giving some final, general thoughts.
Verbal headings. This oral report makes some use of "verbal headings," although not as strongly as does the other oral-report example. Verbal headings, which are like headings used in written reports, let listeners know that the presenter is moving from one main topic to the next; they emphasize the shift of focus. Typically, a verbal heading echoes what has just been discussed and what is about to be discussed and provides some indication of the logical connecting the two. Scroll through the oral report and look at the verbal headings that have been highlighted.
The ones used in this report are not as strong as those used in the other example. For example, the first part could have been introduced by something like this: "Let's start by reviewing how airbags are currently bein used in autombiles and what the plans are for the future." Maybe a little heavy handed, but we know what we about to hear. Take a look at the other verbal headings highlighted in this report and see if you can think of stronger versions.
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