PROJECT DISCOVERY COMMUNICATIONS COMPONENT

Guidelines for Written and Oral Presentations

Guidelines for Preparing Written Assignments
Criteria for Grading Written Assignments
Correction Symbols for Written Assignments
Guidelines for Oral Presentations
Oral Presentation Evaluation Form


Resources for Writing

Available at the Illini Union Bookstore:
Effective Writing: A Handbook for Accountants by C. May & G.S. May

Available in the Reference Section of the Commerce Library (call #: 808.02 L612e 1996):
Electronic Styles: A Handbook for Citing Electronic Information by X. Li & N.B. Crane

Online Resources:
Strunk's Elements of Style (http://www.cc.columbia.edu/acis/bartleby/strunk/)
Roget's Thesaurus (http://humanities.uchicago.edu/forms-unrest/ROGET.html)
Webster's Hypertext Dictionary
(http://work.ucsd.edu:5141/cgi-bin/http-webster)


GUIDELINES FOR PREPARING WRITTEN ASSIGNMENTS

Four Biggest Problem Areas

Writing is disorganized and lacks unity

Usual Outcomes:

  • Reader is uncertain about author's main points and supporting arguments

  • Paper seems to have been prepared hastily

  • Reader grows bored/impatient with author

Writing is vague/imprecise and lacks clarity

Usual Outcomes:

  • Reader is uncertain about the meaning of specific sentences/supporting phrases/words

  • Paper seems to need further revision or editing

  • Reader grows confused about author's argument

Writing is unnecessarily wordy and lacks force

Usual Outcomes:

  • Reader is uncertain about overall points of paper/gets bogged down deciphering individual phrases/sentences

  • Paper seems to need more work on phrase and sentence composition/structure

  • Reader grows tired of reading (and rereading) verbose/run-on sentences

Writing is weak/awkward and lacks effective structure

Usual Outcomes:

  • Reader is uncertain about precise details of author's argument

  • Paper seems to need the help of a proofreader/grammarian

  • Reader is left unconvinced by author's written effort


WRITING ELEMENTS

Coherence

  • Identify main ideas of paper

    • Main ideas should form the basis for topic sentences.

    • All subsidiary ideas within paragraphs should relate to main ideas.

  • Arrange key points in logical sequence

  • Connect main points with smooth, effective transitions

  • Repeat key words/phrases to help unify text

Clarity

  • Use proper, uncomplicated syntax (arrangement of words)

    • Use the active voice whenever possible, especially for the purpose of persuasion

    • Use the passive voice sparingly --

      • In order to avoid awkward repetition of subjects in sentence structure

      • In order to sound tactful or maintain an informal tone

  • Use proper diction (appropriate word choice)

    • Choose words/phrases that convey your ideas clearly and precisely

      • Avoid use of ambiguous words/phrases--be as specific as possible!

    • Tailor language to your audience

      • Determine whether or not it is appropriate to use informal language, accounting-specific jargon, etc.

    • Vary word choice and sentence structure to avoid monotony

  • Use proper grammar--faulty mechanics can obscure the clarity of your writing

    • Misplaced or dangling modifiers lead to confusion re: meaning

      • Example: While driving down the road, a bear was…

    • Faulty pronoun reference obscures meaning

      • Example: Statements such as "Because of this…."

Conciseness

  • Be concise; keep sentences reasonably brief

    • Avoid unnecessary words/phrases

    • Avoid unnecessary detail

    • Avoid digressions

Mechanics

  • Observe the rules of grammar, punctuation, and spelling in all written assignments

    • Be careful of agreement problems (subject-verb, pronoun agreement, singular/plural, tenses)

    • Avoid the use of misplaced/dangling modifiers (discussed previously in 'Clarity' section)

    • Use commas properly--sentences are easier to understand with proper punctuation

    • Use the spell checker provided in your word processing program

    • Consult Effective Writing: A Handbook for Accountants for assistance with punctuation and grammar rules

    • Three words: proofread, edit, revise


Basic Format for Written Reports

Introduction

  • Explain purpose of the report and provide set-up for remainder of paper, including brief overview of contents.

Summary

  • Present main ideas of paper, in prioritized order, and overall recommendations.

    • Points are generally ranked from most to least important (in order to ensure effectiveness of argument).

Body of Paper/Discussion

  • Clearly identify problem/issue at hand.

  • Elaborate major points and provide analysis of various alternatives. This is the main part of the paper.

    • Good transitions between points are essential here if argument is to appear forceful.

    • Visual aids such as charts/tables/graphs may be referenced here, but should be included at the end of the paper as attachments.

Recommendations

  • Make specific recommendations based on the analysis provided in the body of the paper.

Conclusion

  • Restate important points/findings here and reiterate why recommended course of action is best.

    • When possible, save a relevant newsflash or related idea for the conclusion. Leave the reader with this interesting bit of information as food for thought.


PREPARATORY STEPS IN THE WRITING PROCESS

Analyze the purpose of your paper

  • This will help you determine the information you need to proceed

Identify the issues which must be addressed

Determine composition of your readers/audience and assess their needs and expectations

  • This will help you determine appropriate tone and style for document

Secure all data/information necessary

  • This may necessitate additional reading, library research, personal interviews, etc.

Organize your ideas in a coherent, logical fashion

  • At this stage, preparing an outline might be helpful

Write your first draft

Visual Aids

  • All visual aids should have a professional appearance

    • Be sure to use a high-quality printer for final drafts

  • Be sure not to clutter your visuals with too much text/graphics.

    • Visual aids are most effective when a limited amount of information is presented, surrounded by a significant amount of white space.


CRITERIA FOR GRADING WRITTEN ASSIGNMENTS

Students will be graded on how well their writing meets the following criteria.

Coherence

Writing must be well-organized and unified
Ideas should follow logically
Connect main points with smooth, effective transitions

Clarity

Writing should communicate intended meaning lucidly and persuasively

  • Use the active voice whenever possible, especially for the purpose of persuasion

  • Use the passive voice sparingly in order to maintain an informal tone

  • Use proper, uncomplicated syntax

Language should be simple, but precise

  • Use proper diction (appropriate word choice).

  • Tailor language to your audience; determine whether or not it is appropriate to use informal language, accounting-specific jargon, etc.

  • Be concise; keep sentences reasonably brief

  • Vary sentence structure to avoid monotony

Mechanics

Observe the rules of grammar, punctuation, and spelling in all written assignments

  • Use the spell checker provided in your word processing program

  • Consult Effective Writing: A Handbook for Accountants for assistance with punctuation and grammar rules

  • Three words: proofread, edit, revise


CORRECTION SYMBOLS FOR WRITTEN ASSIGNMENTS

?

What do you mean?

Agr

Error in agreement (past/present, singular/plural, he/she/it)

II

Faulty parallel construction

Coh

Indicated passage lacks coherence

Tr

No transition/Wrong transition

S

Poor sentence structure

P

Error in punctuation

WC

Word choice

Coll

Colloquial language

Dgl

Dangling modifier

Mpl

Misplaced modifiers

Frag

Fragment, not a complete sentence

T

Wrong tense of verb

Sp

Spelling error

Ref

Faulty pronoun reference/unclear reference

Gr

Faulty grammar

RO

Run-on sentence

Rev

Marked passage needs revision

UPV

Unnecessary use of passive voice

Awk

Awkward construction

SI

Split infinitive

Wdy

Wordy construction

XBE

Excessive use of 'be verbs'


GUIDELINES FOR ORAL PRESENTATIONS

Three Biggest Pitfalls

Lack of Skill as Presenter

Usual Outcomes:

  • Dull/passive delivery of talk

  • Speaker appears ill-prepared

  • Audience grows bored/impatient

Lack of Preparation

Usual Outcomes:

  • Speaker seems uncertain about details of his/her presentation

  • Talk is not targeted to appropriate audience

  • Speech seems unrehearsed

  • Audience grows confused/disengaged

Lack of Confidence/Fear of public speaking

Usual Outcomes:

  • Speaker appears unnatural; lacks poise

  • He/she has problems with body language and facial expressions

  • Audience grows uncomfortable


PRESENTATION SKILLS

Public Speaking

Demonstrate command of your material

Appear knowledgeable about what you're saying
DO: Speak confidently; provide specific examples
DON'T: Read/memorize a prepared speech

Demonstrate interest in your audience

Care about getting your point across
DO: Keep your presentation simple, logical and well-organized
DON'T: Exceed time constraints; better to be brief than boring

Demonstrate effective presentation skills

Control body language, facial expressions, and voice

Body Language

DO: Keep your body language natural; use gestures where appropriate
DON'T: Bury your hands in your pockets; shake visibly while pointing at audiovisual aids; touch your face, forehead, chin, etc.

Facial Expressions

DO: Try to smile--look like you're enjoying yourself
Maintain eye contact with your audience
DON'T: Stare at the floor, at your presentation materials, or off into space
Look scared or unhappy

Voice

Pitch (where voice falls on musical scale); rate (how long sound lasts); volume (how loud/soft)
DO: Vary your voice; pace your presentation appropriately; speak loud enough
Use pauses occasionally, where most effective
DON'T: Present in a monotone; race through your talk; speak inaudibly
Resort to use of fillers (examples: y'know, er, um) to keep presentation moving


Presentation format

Basic Elements of Presentation

Introduction

  • Acquaint audience with topic and provide set-up for remainder of presentation, including purpose of talk and recommendations.

Content of Presentation

  • Present major points of presentation, in prioritized order.

    • The most important points should come at the very beginning and the very end, always the strongest points of a structure.

Body of Presentation

  • Discuss major points in detail. This is the main part of the presentation.

    • In this section of the presentation, good transitions between points are essential.

Conclusion

  • Review what has been stated previously and reiterate recommendations.

Presentation Style Options (Ranked from Most to Least Desirable)

Ad lib presentation (no written back-up is apparent to audience)

  • Only suggested for the most experienced speakers due to dangers inherent in format

    • Might guide presentation with the aid of overhead transparencies, slide show, or computer demo

Speak with an outline/notes as back-up

  • Might also use overhead transparencies, slide show, or computer demo

Read from prepared manuscript

  • Toughest format to present effectively

    • Aided somewhat by use of audiovisual materials

Audiovisual Aid Format

All audiovisual aids should have a professional appearance.

  • For overhead transparencies, minimum guidelines are: use a sophisticated word processing program (such as Microsoft Word) with presentation package features.
    Optimal:  prepare visuals with a full-fledged presentation package such as Powerpoint. Use of color in visuals is recommended, if possible.

  • For slides and computer demos, ensure that visuals are professional looking and clearly legible to audience.

    Be sure not to clutter your visuals with too much text/graphics. Audiovisual aids are most effective when a limited amount of information is presented, surrounded by a significant amount of white space.


PREPARATORY STEPS

Determine composition of your audience and why you were asked to speak

  • Helps in selecting most appropriate format for speech, best style and desired length

Determine where you will be speaking and ask what facilities will be available

  • Visit room prior to presentation--get comfortable with room set-up, lighting, speaker's podium or desk/table

  • Familiarize yourself with audiovisual equipment you'll be using (if possible)

    • Turn on overhead projector (make sure bulb is not burned out)

    • Set-up and preview slides (make sure no slides are upside down/backwards)

    • Try out the in-room computer facilities (make sure their system is up and running; ensure that your disk works on their system)

Rehearse and time your presentation

  • Practice and time delivery of your talk at least three or four times prior to your presentation.

    • If possible, rehearse in front of a mirror, friends/family, or have yourself audio/videotaped. You might ask friends/family to critique your presentation and then revise your speech/delivery accordingly.

  • For group presentations, practice together. Rehearse until group presentation coheres.

    • Members of group should provide constructive feedback to presenters so that delivery may be revised as necessary.


CONFIDENCE BUILDERS

With better preparation comes decreased anxiety

  • Knowing your speech inside-out increases speaker confidence

  • Familiarizing yourself with the presentation environment (classroom/boardroom/auditorium) and audiovisual equipment ahead of time decreases stress

  • As your public speaking frequency increases, your anxiety decreases

  • Rehearsing your presentation in front of a live audience (family/friends/professional colleagues) increases speaker assurance

    • Don't wait to refine your skills in a work situation-for example, in front of your boss and members of the Board of Directors.


Oral Presentation Evaluation Form (Communication Skills)

 

Name:______ Course: Accy ____Date: ____SCORE:___

 

Oral Presentation Evaluation Form (Communication Skills)

Presentation Format

  • Structure of Presentation (introduction, content/body, transitions, and conclusion)

  • Style of Presentation (check one)
    Ad lib_____ Notes_____ Prepared Manuscript_____

Presentation/Delivery Elements

  • Poise (controls body movement, posture, composure/nervous tendencies)

  • Uses Facial Expressions (to demonstrate enthusiasm/confidence)

  • Uses Gestures (to emphasize important points)

  • Uses Eye Contact (maintains connection with audience)

  • Uses Voice (avoids speaking in a monotone; attends to pitch, volume, and speed)

  • Controls Use of Fillers (y'know, er, um, etc.)

  • Controls Timing of Presentation (talk is paced appropriately; does not exceed time limits)

Audiovisual Aids

  • Professional Appearance (makes use of white space/text is uncluttered & clearly legible)


Email comments to:  jslutsky@uiuc.edu
Last updated 01/24/05