Developing a Presentation
  • Engaging your Audience
    Using PowerPoint Effectively
    Introductions and Conclusions
    Citing Sources Verbally

    Engaging Your Audience

    Your goal in any speech is to make a genuine connection with your audience. In every speech, you accomplish this by tailoring your message to that particular audience. Several of the speech structures make this connection explicit with a “relate topic to audience” step.

    Additionally, you can use Appeals and Motivators to engage your audience.


    Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates detailed strategies that “involve making choices that appeal to the listeners' perception of the speaker's character (ethos), reasoned judgment (logos), and emotions (pathos)” (Crawford, Croft, & Tomlinson, 2007, p. 81).

    Ethos involves the “qualities of and choice made by a speaker that influence a listener’s sense of that person’s character and credibility.” These include ethical speaking choices, “a speaker's occupation, education, appearance, personality, respect for others, sensitivity, knowledge of the situation, ability to verbalize information, trustworthiness and expertise” (Crawford, Croft, & Tomlinson, 2007, p. 81).

    Logos “appeals to a listener’s sense of logic and reasoning.” Examples of logos in action include the use of sound evidence (such as definitions, statistics, and known facts) and the use of sound reasoning. Two types of reasoning are common: inductive and deductive. 

    Inductive reasoning is based on probability. You use it by setting up your specific evidence for the audience and then drawing a probably conclusion from that evidence. 

    Deductive reasoning is based on logical necessity. You use it by setting up a general factual statement that the audience can accept. Then you set up a specific factual statement that connects to it, making the case that if the audience believes the first and second statements, they must agree with the conclusion that follows from it (Crawford, Croft, & Tomlinson, 2007, p. 82-83).

    Pathos involves appeals to emotion. These, too, must be ethically driven.


    Motivators employ pathos to engage the audience. Some examples:

    “Adventure: Appeal to one's sense of adventure
    Fear: Appeal to the inherent fear an audience has of an idea of a fact.
    Guilt: Appeal to one's sense of guilt regarding an issue or act.
    Humor: Appeal to one's sense of self and their willingness to laugh.
    Loyalty: Appeal to one's identification with a person, institution, or culture.
    Revulsion: Appeal to one's sense of disgust over an issue, event, or situation.
    Sympathy: Appeal to one's personal feelings about an issue, event, or situation”
    (Crawford, Croft, & Tomlinson, 2007, p. 84).


    Finally, a key to audience engagement is honesty. The moment that an audience realizes you are being less than truthful with them, they will stop listening to you. Be sure to use all of your evidence, reasoning, and delivery tactics with honesty and ethics.

    Using PowerPoint Effectively

    The primary form of presentation aid that you will encounter is PowerPoint. There are a wide variety of opinions as to what qualities an effective PowerPoint presentation possesses. Here are some very simple guidelines to help you avoid the worst problems:

    Rule of sixes – when it comes to text content, no more than six lines per slide, no more than six words per line. This can be bent for things like quotations, when the quote is the only thing on the slide.

    Images – use appropriate images, ideally on each slide. Avoid using the clip art that comes with any Microsoft product, as those images have been overused and are more a distraction than a benefit.

    Audio and Video – use these inside PowerPoint with caution. It is often better to link to an outside resource rather than embed if you know you will have internet connectivity on the presentation computer.

    Animation – avoid using animation unless it serves your presentation goals, as some computers cannot properly display animation.

    Simplify Complex Information – don’t give your audience a list of numbers if you can create a graph that shows that material more simply. Effective PowerPoint helps to make complex information simpler.

    Links to PowerPoint Resources

    Michael Hyatt: 5 Rules for Better Presentations
    Powerpoint Design Tips (PDF)

    Introductions and Conclusions


    There’s a lot of work to be done in the introduction to your speech. Your individual assignment may modify the requirements, but ideally your introduction should have each of the following components.

    Attention getting device – This is the first element of your speech, even before you introduce yourself. The goal is to get the audience to pay attention to you. There are several ways to capture the audience’s attention; one may be more appropriate than another, depending on your topic:

    • Tell a story
    • Use startling facts of statistics
    • Begin with a quotation
    • Ask a hypothetical question
    • Refer to a historical event
    • Refer to a current or recent event, if appropriate
    • Use Personal experience, if appropriate
    • Refer to the occasion
    • Mention a previous speech or speaker
    • Use a song lyric, stanza from a poem, or a very brief excerpt from a book, short story, essay, or text. 
    • Play a clip from a TV show, video, or piece of music
    • Do a brief demonstration (Crawford, Croft, & Tomlinson, 2007, p. 108). 

    The AGD always has to be relevant to your topic, and should be dramatic or interesting enough to gather in your audience.


    Topic statement - gives the big picture for your speech.

    Relate Topic to Audience - we give our audience a reason to continue listening by relating our topic to them. It’s not enough to show that the topic is important in general. Instead, you have to let this group of people know why it is important to THEM.

    Credibility Statement – Explain your authority to speak on the topic. The credibility statement lets the audience know that they will be receiving information from a knowledgeable source – you.

    Main Point Preview – Cues the audience to the structure of your speech by individually (and briefly) stating each of the main points in your speech.  

    Citing Sources Verbally

    You are no doubt already familiar with the idea of citing sources in print – giving credit where credit is due in order to avoid plagiarism. A standard print citation for a book includes Author, Year, Title, Publisher, and City of Publication. During a speech, however, your audience will not have access to your print outline, which includes these citations – so how do they know where your information comes from? 

    Verbal citations are the answer. Speaking in general, a good verbal citation starts with the Author, the Title of the work, and the Year it was published. In addition, depending on the individual circumstance, you might include the name of the journal, newspaper, or magazine if the source is an article. You might also include context for the author if it makes them seem more credible. Adding an “According to” to the front is an artful way to integrate these elements. For example:

    “According to Susan Douglas in her 1989 book Inventing American Broadcasting, the development of radio was a result of technological, social, and economic forces coming together at a pivotal moment.”

    With additional context, the verbal citation would sound like: “According to media historian and University of Michigan Professor of Communication Susan Douglas in her 1989 book Inventing American Broadcasting, the development of radio was a result of technological, social, and economic forces coming together at a pivotal moment.” 

    To fail to cite your sources verbally during a speech is the equivalent to leaving print citations out of a research paper – in other words, it is plagiarism.