Principles of Public Speaking

Preparing Your Personal Narrative

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Return to Unit Two of the Course Guide

Present a 2-3 minute speech in which you share a personal value, opinion, belief or attitude, which will enable you to establish your credibility. Tell us a story about an episode in your life that has made a difference for you. This is an extemporaneous talk so you are welcome to have notes but no manuscript. The emphasis should be on delivering a conversational talk. Develop your narrative informally, with emphasis on demonstrating the qualities of an effective communicator (i.e., SPEAK).

Concentrate on developing a clear introduction, discussion and conclusion for your talk. Do not plan a question/answer session since time will not permit this.

You might describe to us an experience that you've that changed your life:

  • Serving in the War against Iraqi's Saddam Hussain taught me a great deal about the value of our First Amendment rights.
  • Political candidates ought not resort to mud-slinging since this only serves to dissuade people from supporting any candidate.
  • I found that running the Marine Corps Marathon taught me a lot about myself.
  • I'm proud that I became an American citizen last January.
  • My struggle with anorexia taught me that women in the media do not represent the ideal figure.
  • My grandfather taught me to cherish life.
  • Adopting a child has been the most challenging and rewarding experience I've had.
  • My year as an exchange student taught me to appreciate the Asian culture.
  • I've found that drinking water has made a big difference in my quest to have a better diet.
  • Quitting smoking has been a continuous struggle that I wish on no other person.
  • I learned the hard way not to talk on the cell phone while driving a car.

Check out Rick Reilly's personal narrative, "On a Wing and a Prayer,"
published September 14, 1999 in Sports Illustrated,

Other considerations:

  • Watch the video lecture for more tips
  • Be sure to dress for success. Wear business casual. No shorts, t-shirts, jeans, or tennis shoes. Wear a collared shirt and pressed slacks.
  • Bring a new VHS videotape to class. Put your name on the cassette. Invest in a better quality tape to ensure that you can hear your presentation.
  • Bring your confidence to class.