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What is an Oral Report?

Mary Elizabeth
Updated May 23, 2024
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One of the key concepts in education, along with teaching and learning, is assessment. Assessment is a method of finding out whether a student has understood and integrated the instructional material, and it can take a wide variety of forms. A school assessment might be a written report, a multimedia project, a group presentation, a classroom quiz or test, a standardized assessment, or an oral report.

An oral report is a presentation, usually done for a student’s teacher and classmates, though it can also be done for a larger segment of the school community, for parents, or for a more open group, depending on the circumstances. For example, at a science fair, a student might present a report on his or her project periodically for the class, for other visitors who pass by, and for judges.

A spoken report may have a variety of elements including an introduction, body, and conclusion. Audio-visual aids — such as posters, slides, movies, models, or other demonstrations — may be allowed or required. A question-and-answer session in which the student giving the presentation interacts with his or her audience may also be part of the expected proceedings.

An oral report is an opportunity for students to practice their speaking skills, but other skills may come into play as well. There are presentation skills, such as making eye contact with the audience, listening skills of a question and answer session, and the skill of anticipating how to present something in a way that will be understandable as well as appealing to the particular audience.

Although the report is oral, writing is often involved in its preparation — and sometimes the actual performance — of the presentation. A student may begin by creating a rough draft of what he or she will say and try reading it. The next step might be preparing either notes on a topic or an outline of points.

In preparing for an oral report, a student’s approach will vary somewhat depending on whether it must be delivered without notes. If the report has to be memorized, more practice will likely be required. If the student may speak from note cards or an outline — two popular methods for prompting one’s own performance — the preparation may focus more on other aspects of the presentation. Practice will also be shaped by how strict a time limit the student has been given: preparing a presentation to fall within a range is easier than trying to meet an exact length.

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Mary Elizabeth
By Mary Elizabeth , Writer
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to writing articles on art, literature, and music for Language & Humanities, Mary works as a teacher, composer, and author who has written books, study guides, and teaching materials. Mary has also created music composition content for Sibelius Software. She earned her B.A. from University of Chicago's writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont.

Discussion Comments

By Perdido — On Dec 14, 2012

Some teachers will let kids doing oral reports read from a written report the first time or two. I had a teacher who slowly led us toward true oral reports by starting us out with this crutch.

I had no problem reading in public. Once I progressed toward oral reports with just a couple of notes, though, I stumbled a bit. It was hard to keep my thoughts in order under pressure.

I really respect people who have to speak and give some sort of report to a group of people on a daily basis. There is a lot of pressure involved, and it takes a certain type of individual to be able to handle this.

By kylee07drg — On Dec 13, 2012

@cafe41 – I remember doing oral book reports in school. One report involved actually dressing up like the character in the book and speaking from their point of view. Everyone enjoyed this, because all of us looked odd and were really into character.

By seag47 — On Dec 13, 2012

@feasting – I have always been incredibly terrified of speaking in front of a crowd. My fear of oral reports started in elementary school and continued throughout college.

I completely avoided taking speech class because I knew that it would be full of oral reports. I even avoided choosing the major that I truly wanted because I would have been required to take one speech class!

By feasting — On Dec 12, 2012

Oral reports are stressful for kids. I absolutely hated having to do them, because I was so shy back then.

I basically stared at my index card notes the whole time, only lifting my eyes for a brief second every couple of minutes to satisfy the teacher's requirement about eye contact. I didn't get a perfect grade, even though my report itself was great, because I failed to connect to the audience.

I knew that if I looked right at some of the kids in the class, they would make faces at me and try to trip me up. Some of them would do this to be funny, while others would do it out of meanness. So, I felt like I was doomed either way.

By surfNturf — On Feb 02, 2011

GreenWeaver- That is a great point. I know that visuals help a lot. If the child can provide pictures it would also enhance the presentation experience not only for him but for the entire class.

We are all visual by nature so having visual aids does make for a more interesting presentation.

By GreenWeaver — On Jan 31, 2011

Cupcake15- I agree with you. I tell my kids that when they have to do an oral report that they should find a point in the room slightly above everyone’s head that is in the dead center of the room.

This way they can appear to provide eye contact without looking directly at some of the students. Looking directly at some of the students might be a little intimidating and this way they can keep the students focused without adding to the jitters that they already are experiencing.

By cupcake15 — On Jan 31, 2011

Cafe41- I just want to say that it is also important when a teacher assigns oral reports for the students that she remind them about maintaining eye contact with the audience and pause when appropriate.

Students should also speak slowly and articulate the words so that the rest of the students could understand what they are saying.

Usually when children get nervous they tend to speed up their speech and it might cause the whole presentation to be incoherent which will make the rest of the kids in the class a bit restless.

A great way to practice for an oral report is to get in front of a mirror so that the child can see how they come across.

They should also practice with their parents so that they can feel comfortable the day of the speech.

It is really important to offer encouraging advice because children are a little nervous and if you are highly critical that will create even more apprehension on the day of the oral report.

By cafe41 — On Jan 30, 2011

I know that a lot of oral report ideas that teachers usually have surround book reports or biographies.

It depends on the grade, but my son was asked to do an oral book report on his favorite book.

The teacher said that the book had to be on his reading level and she outlined what was expected.

She explained that there had to be a mention of the author and illustrator of the book along with the main idea and a few details to support the main idea.

The children were supposed to write a five sentence paragraph first and then practice reciting what they wrote.

They also had to be able to answer any questions asked by their peers or even the teacher.

Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth


Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the...
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