Like papers and essays, citations are critical components of most speeches. Any time you reference someone else’s thoughts, ideas, or words, you must give them credit in order to avoid plagiarism. Using oral citations in a presentation helps build your credibility as a speaker, provides your audience with a source, and demonstrates that your information is reputable and can be fact-checked.
What do I Include in an Oral Citation?
The good news about oral citations is that they are usually simpler than written citations, which follow strict standards such as APA or MLA style. There usually are not firm rules about what must be included in an oral citation. In general, speakers will often include information about:
Author(s): use last names only unless the full name is recognizable (e.g., Oprah Winfrey)
Title: titles are often not vital to a citation but use it if it is catchy or particularly relevant
Publication: it is vital that the publication, or where the information comes from, is cited
Date: dates are crucial to data like statistics that change over time
What Does an Oral Citation Sound Like?
Just as there are no firm rules about what is included in an oral citation, there are also no firm rules about what an oral citation should sound like. One clear approach is simply saying “According to…” before providing the citation. For example, an appropriate citation might sound like:
“According to a 2020 article in the Journal of Learning, 75% of students dislike public speaking.”
However, the over-use of any citation style can become monotonous. So, be sure to use some variety when you signal that you are providing a citation. Examples might include:
“In a 2020 report from the Journal of Learning, 75% of students dislike public speaking.”
“A 2020 study from the Journal of Learning notes that 75% of students dislike public speaking.”
“The Journal of Learning reported in 2020 that 75% of students dislike public speaking.”
“Findings from a 2020 study in the Journal of Learning states 75% of students dislike public speaking.”
When Do I Use an Oral Citation?
Use an oral citation whenever you are providing information that you feel is likely new to your audience. Statistics, quotations, study results, specific opinions, and expert testimony likely need to be cited.
Where do I Place an Oral Citation?
There are a variety of options when placing a citation in relation to its corresponding information. These can be used interchangeably throughout your speech. Realize that you can insert the citation either before, during, or after the information being referenced. Examples include:
Beginning of sentence: “According to a 2020 article in the Journal of Learning, 75% of students dislike public speaking.”
Middle of sentence: “75% of students, according to a 2020 Journal of Learning article, dislike public speaking.”
End of sentence: “75% of students dislike public speaking, according to a 2020 article in the Journal of Learning.”
The Key Ideas to Remember are:
- At least, be sure to include the source/publication and date of the information in a citation
- Be sure to clearly signal your citation using “According to,” or another similar phrase
- Use citations when needed—if you are unsure if a citation is needed, be safe and cite
- You can include the citation before, during, or just after the information—but be certain to cite as you go and do not hold your citation(s) until the end of a section or entire speech
Prepared by GVSU Speech Lab Consultants & Carl J. Brown
Information partially adapted from Stephen Lucas' The Art of Public Speaking, Tenth Edition.