Book Review: Oral Presentations for Technical Communication

by Marge Freking

Public speaking may seem threatening, but in the working world of technology, communicators must develop the ability to speak publicly and fluently. In Oral Presentations for Technical Communication, Laura J. Gurak provides a crash course in overcoming the fear of public speaking. She also gives excellent advice on audience analysis and speech development.

The technical communicator’s job concentrates on imparting information, so necessity demands a well-rounded communicator who not only writes clearly and concisely, but also speaks with enthusiasm and knowledge. Technical information often necessitates translation into nonprofessionals’ language, requiring writing and speaking skills that convey information quickly and precisely.

Gurak details the five cannons of rhetoric (invention, arrangement, style, delivery, and memory), and includes summary information of rhetoric’s three appeals (logos, ethos, and pathos). Using the cannons and the appeals, Gurak offers help in structuring presentations by outlining systematic steps to build competent and interesting speeches. Her advice covers live audience presentations and teleconferencing, as well as effective uses of graphics and other presentation tools.

Like writers, speakers must take care to credit their sources. Gurak discusses legal aspects to watch when giving oral presentations and includes information on legitimate and legal uses of the Internet and web sites.

While Gurak’s book cannot replace a speech class, she does give presenters the tools to do a thorough and competent job. Gurak reminds the presenter to practice the presentation aloud. The more confident and comfortable you appear, the more credible your presentation, and the more appealing you and your information seem to your audience. All technical communicators need Oral Presentations for Technical Communication by Laura J Gurak in their reference materials.


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