A Guide to Oral Presentation and Statement of Intention

Published on
March 14, 2024

Oral presentations can be incredibly daunting for students, and most of us are not the biggest fans of public speaking. To help you alleviate your stress in preparing for this SAC, we have created a comprehensive guide on this particular topic which includes some ideas to help you develop your writing, research and presentation skills! An annotated sample response is also attached for your reference.

  • Choosing a Topic for your SAC
  • Researching Your Issue
  • Creating a Contention
  • Writing Your Speech
  • Presentation Tips
  • Sample Speech

Choosing a Topic for your Oral Presentation SAC

When selecting a topic for your presentation ensure, that there are clearly two sides to the issue. For example, the issue of whether or not Australia should implement a sugar tax has arguments both for and against. This means that you will have lots of opposing opinions to rebut!

Remember that the issue you choose must have appeared in the Australian media since September the 1st the previous year. When choosing an issue, try to base it around a specific event, proposal or something concrete. For example, the general topic of climate change is too broad, whereas writing about whether or not the school climate strikes (specific event) should be allowed to proceed, sufficiently narrows down the topic.

Further, make sure that the issue you choose will be interesting and understandable to your audience of teachers and VCE students. You should avoid topics which require you to use extensive jargon. Your audience is most likely to be captivated by a relatable topic that they care about and understand.

Make sure to phrase your issue as a precise question that you can answer in your contention. For example “Should Australia increase surveillance in an attempt to counteract terrorism?”.

If you are struggling to choose an issue the ABC News Archive is a good starting place. If in doubt, choose an issue which you are interested in! You are more likely to be motivated to spend time researching and writing on a topic that you care about.

Researching Your Issue

Once you have chosen a topic make sure to conduct research before writing your speech! A good place to begin is by searching for coverage in popular news sources (The Age, The Herald Sun, The ABC, The Australian). Next, you may also want to use some lesser known but still reputable websites (The Conversation, A Current Affair, Q&A, 9 News, Insight, etc.). Make sure that you read articles arguing both for and against your contention.

As you read, note down any key arguments, quotes, pieces of evidence or persuasive techniques which you think may inspire or support your own speech. Once you have done this for 5–10 articles you should be ready to write! When writing, aim to go further than just synthesising the arguments that you have seen others present. Assessors are looking for your ability to create unique and convincing arguments, which are supported by research and evidence.

Creating a Contention

Your contention must be precise and concise. You should avoid contentions that are too broad or are already generally accepted in society, such as “climate change exists” or “hate speech is wrong”. An example of a specific and detailed contention is “Australia must allow punters to test their pills at music festivals and the police to operate in a similar way to the Sydney injecting centre where using drugs is not a crime.”

Writing Your Speech

The Introduction:

Start with an opening sentence which grabs the attention of your audience. This could take the form of an anecdote, rhetorical question, quote, shocking statistic, etc.

  • Establish the importance and urgency of your issue.
  • Relate to your audience by using inclusive language.
  • Clearly state your contention and briefly summarise your arguments.

If you are taking on a persona use some time to introduce yourself. Taking on a persona is recommended so that you can establish your credibility and stake in the issue. When choosing a persona keep in mind that if you choose to speak as a professional person (politician, lawyer, doctor, etc.) you should consider the type of jargon and formal language that they may use.  

  • Be sure to vary your sentence length. Short sentences are usually more impactful than extended ones.
  • Define any key terms.

The Body Paragraphs:

Begin and end each body paragraph by clearly signposting your argument.

Your paragraphs should be made up of evidence and explanation that supports your argument.

Aim for a balance between appealing to the audience’s sense of logic (with evidence, appeals to common sense, expert opinion, etc.) and appealing to their emotions (with emotive language, anecdotes, connotations and rhetorical questions).

Make use of a variety of persuasive language techniques! Take inspiration from the techniques used in the articles you found during the research stage.

Utilise words with connotations, or implied meanings, in order to influence the audience’s perception of the issue. For example, if you were arguing for graffiti to be considered as art you may refer to it as “street art”, whereas if you were arguing for it to be considered a criminal offence you may describe it as “vandalism”.

Acknowledge the potential arguments of the opposition and then rebut them. You can include this rebuttal throughout your essay or as a final paragraph dedicated to criticising your opposition.

The Conclusion:

  • Restate your contention and briefly summarise your arguments.
  • Remind the audience of why the issue is important and how it relates to them directly.

Your conclusion must end in a memorable way to ensure that your speech stands out to the assessor and remains on their mind after its conclusion. You may choose to do this with a rhetorical question, quote, statistic, anecdote, etc.

Presentation Tips

Ensure that you make eye contact with various members of your audience and look around the room. Raise your cue cards so that you don’t need to look down too far to see them.

Whilst presenting your speech try to stand still and avoid swaying or pacing. Use your arms to make natural gestures; however, do not overdo this.

Read your speech aloud to your family or friends to practice your delivery. Another option is reading your speech in front of a camera or mirror. Aim to practise the speech until you have it memorised.

Make sure to vary your tone when presenting. Pause after making an important statement and emphasise elements that you want the audience to pay attention to with volume and tone. Variation will make your speech more engaging for the audience.

Make sure to time your speech to ensure that it is within the time restriction. Also ensure that you are speaking at a slightly slower pace than usual so that the audience can follow your points easily.

If speaking with props or a Powerpoint presentation, avoid overcomplicating your materials. You don’t want to distract the audience from your speech by overwhelming them with busy Powerpoint slides, or bore them by simply reading straight from your presentation.

The Written Explanation

The written explanation gives you an opportunity to explain the choices that you have made when writing your speech. Often these statements have a strict word limit usually around 400–500 words (depending on your school), which means that you need to be as concise as possible. The written explanation is worth 25% of your mark for this outcome, so make sure that you take it seriously. When writing your statement of intention you can follow the structure outlined below.


Provide a brief description of your issue and any specific events which sparked media coverage.


Clearly state your stance on the issue. You may also like to include why you have chosen this stance.


Outline where and when you will be presenting your speech and why you have made this choice. If you are taking on a persona explain who you have chosen to speak as and why.


Select a target audience which is suitable for your presentation. Describe why you have chosen to present to this specific group of people.


Consider the overall language style you have used (formal, informal, personal, etc.) and the persuasive language techniques you have incorporated (repetition, comparison, connotations, etc.). How do you intend for these techniques to influence your audience?


Outline what you want to achieve by presenting your speech. What is the message you would like the audience to receive? What is the desired outcome of your speech?

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