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Time limit:  2 minutes

Speaking notes:  1 notecard

Source of information: Your own personal experience


Purpose:  This assignment gives you a chance to practice preparing and presenting a speech and to receive feedback from the audience.  This speech will account for 5% of your grade.  You will get feedback on your speech from the instructor and your classmates. 

Overview:  The narrative speech is essentially a speech which tells a story.  Narrative speeches often deal with a personal experience.  We hear this kind of speech from athletes, missionaries, and business leaders, who often have very interesting personal stories to tell.  For this assignment, you will also be telling a story or describing personal experience.


Preparation Instructions:  Prepare a 2-minute speech, outlining your major points on 1 notecard.  You may choose to do EITHER a vivid experience speech, or a “pet peeve” speech.  With either of these, the goal is to pick something that intensely touches you.


1)      The Vivid Experience Speech

In this speech, you should recount an event which made a profound impression on you.  It may have taught you something about life, helped you grow in some way, or changed the way you think about something, someone, or some issue.  Think of something which significantly shaped you as person.

            Surviving a tornado

            Saving a life

            Reaching a long-held goal

            Overcoming a fear or obstacle

            Spending time living in another culture

            Going to boot camp


Optional:  It sometimes is effective to bring in a object that is visually symbolic of your experience, to serve as a visual aid during your speech.


2)      The Pet Peeve Speech

If you prefer, you may choose to do a “pet peeve” speech instead.  To choose your topic, think of something that really annoys or irritates you.  It should make your blood boil just to think about it.  Examples of good topics for this speech would include:

            Parents who don’t put their children in car seats

            Kids addicted to TV


            Smokers in elevators




Your speech should include at least one personal example of an encounter with your pet peeve.


Delivery Instructions:  Your primary goal should be to project a lively, enthusiastic style with lots of eye contact.  Do not read your speech.  Rehearse and time yourself delivering your speech to be sure you can stay within the time limit.  Make sure your speech has an effective beginning, a good body and a clear conclusion.


Sample Vivid Experience Speech

(Note:  This is longer than what I require of you)


Introduction:  Speaker                        I grew up in a little town called Brunswick in

provides background                          Maine.  Up in Maine, hunting is a popular sport,

essential to the point of the                 and so it was sort of natural that my father and I

story.  He sets the scene for                were avid hunters.  We use to go out every other

us.                                                        day during the season.


Thesis:  Although not stated               The last year I lived in Maine was my sophomore

directly, the speaker clearly                year in high school.  My parents had divorced and

implies that his pattern is                    my father was living in New Jersey.  The only

narrative and that he wants               chance we had to go hunting was the last day of

to share with the audience                  the season.  We knew this might be our last

new understanding.                             hunting trip together in the woods.


                                                            What we did not know was that this trip would

                                                            bring us closer together than we had ever been

                                                            before, and it would teach me a lesson I would

                                                            never forget.


Language:  The speaker’s style          We had a ritual: up at 3:00 a.m., off to Dunkin

is more colloquial than it might          Donuts, then out to the woods.  We’d spend the

be for a speech of a more                   morning hunting, get lunch, and then go back to

serious nature.  A narrative is a         the woods until 4:15, the official end of the

less formal pattern of public               hunting day.  On this last trip, we got dressed up

speaking, and so the language            in our boots, long underwear, and heavy pants.

can often be more casual without       Then quietly, so as not to wake my mother and

becoming incorrect.                            sister, we loaded up the truck and headed

                                                            off to the place my father humorously called

                                                            “Drucken Donuts,” because of some of the people

                                                            we would meet at that time of the morning.







Language:  Notice the phrases           Arriving at the donut shop, we slogged down a

and words used to get from                couple of cups of coffee, three donuts each, and

event to event.  The speaker               listened to the stories of other hunters, most of

avoids overusing such words              which were about the big eight-pointer that had

as next and then.                                 eluded their sights, or the friend who was nearly

                                                            laced with buckshot but an overanxious

                                                            weekend Daniel Boone.  When we left the shop

                                                            it was about 5:00 a.m. and just a five-minute

                                                            ride to the preserve.


                                                            Actual hunting starts at 6:00 a.m., so we couldn’t

                                                            up our guns till then.  My dad was a stickler for

                                                            the rules of hunting, always telling me, “If the

                                                            deer can’t cheat, neither can we.”  When we

                                                            finally walked into the woods we immediately

                                                            came upon a scrape that had been made by the

                                                            deer.  It was about one foot square.


Language:  The speaker                     For those of you who don’t know what a scrape

defines terms he feels may be             is, I’d better tell you.  The deer scrapes off the

unclear to the audience.  Such            topsoil—I should say the buck—and then urinates

brief digressions are acceptable         in the middle.  This marks off the buck’s

in a narrative.                                     territory.  My father decided to hunt about fifty

                                                            yards away from the scrape in hopes of getting

                                                            a shot at a doe or another buck coming to

                                                            investigate the scrape.  I walked about two

Notice that the speaker                       hundred yards up the trail that led to the scrape

relates feelings as well as                    hoping to get a shot at a deer from that vantage

events, so that the audience                point. Well, I sat there for about three hours,

has a full picture of the                       listening to the squirrels above me making all

experience.                                          Sorts of noise, as if to warn the deer that I was

there.  It reached 11:00 a.m., so I decided to go see

what Dad had accomplished, and, as expected, he

had seen nothing.  We left for lunch.


                                                            Lunch was nothing more than a cup of soup and a

                                                            donut at the same shop we had visited in the

                                                            morning.  The same men were there, telling the

                                                            same stories about tracks and scrapes and rustling

                                                            in the bushes—but not one deer had been shot.

                                                            Dad said, “If this was baseball, Bruce, the deer

                                                            would have a shutout right now.”