SPEECH OF PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

Question: How can you improve your pronunciation?

Answer: Keep a dictionary handy. Carry a small one with you. Read aloud fifteen minutes daily making sure of all pronunciations.

This Speech is Due: July 10th.

Time Limits: 3-4 minutes.

Speaking notes: 10- word maximum limit.

Source of information: Use your own personal experience.

Outline of speech: Prepare a 50-100 word complete sentence outline to be handed to your instructor when you rise to speak. He may wish to write criticisms on it regarding your speech. Write the number of words in upper left hand corner of the paper. Use the form provided.

PURPOSE OF A SPEECH OF PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

You take a step forward in your speaking experience when you present a speech of personal experience. While this speech is essentially about yourself, it still requires a definite preparation and interesting presentation. You should learn the importance of these two requirements early in your speech training. Aside from becoming acquainted with these aspects of speechmaking, you should feel increased confidence and poise as a result of this speech experience. Your ease before the group will improve noticeably. By giving your best to this speech you will achieve a creditable improvement and desirable personal satisfaction.

EXPLANATION OF A SPEECH OF PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

A speech of personal experience may be one of any four basic types: that is, the speech may be given to (1) inform, (2) to stimulate or arouse, (3) to convince, or (4) to entertain. The specific purpose of your remarks will determine which of these types you plan to present. If you want to tell of funny or amusing personal experiences, you will plan to entertain your listeners. If you wish to tell how you trap muskrats, your purpose will be to inform your listeners. It is advisable to confine your efforts to one of these two kinds of speeches. To attempt either of the others this early would be too hazardous to recommend now.

All this speech requires from you is a good thorough preparation. You must know the order in which you plan to tell of your experiences. You also need to know how you will tell them, that is, the words you will use. This does not mean you are to memorize your speech. Do not memorize your speech either now or later. This point will be discussed in subsequent paragraphs under the headings: "How To Prepare a Speech of Personal Experience" and "How To Present a Speech of Personal Experience."

Unlimited occasions for a speech of personal experience occur at all kinds of meetings – such as before school assemblies, clubs, business meetings, religious gathering, and other groups. You have probably heard such a speech from a war veteran, a war correspondent, from a missionary, a newspaper reporter, a great athlete, or from a person like yourself who tells what has happened to him or her.

SUGGESTED TOPICS FOR A SPEECH OF PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

(1) Wrecks, (2) Conflagrations, (3) Falling through ice, (4) Swimming, (5) Hunting, (6) Camping, (7) Hiking, (8) Climbing, (9) Racing – any kind, (10) Sports Contests, (11) Rodeos, (12) **A Trip, (13) Flying, (14) An experiment, (15) Sickness, (16) Wrestling, (17) At a carnival, (18) Embarrassment, (19) A funny incident, (20) Building something, or (21) Speaker’s choice.

* Do not choose this topic unless you have more to tell than items, such as: the time you started, where you ate your meals, the hotels you stayed in, the cities you passed through, and when you returned. A speech of this kind should carry some element of special interest which makes it different from any ordinary trip.

HOW TO CHOOSE A TOPIC FOR A SPEECH OF PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

Read the foregoing list of topics carefully. They are intended to suggest ideas to you. If you have had an exciting experience similar to one of them, select it for your speech. Whatever you decide to talk about should be vivid in your memory and quite clear. As you think about it you may feel prickly chills race up your spine, you may laugh, you may feel sad. But whatever it is, the experience should be personal.

Do not begin stalling before making a choice of topic because you do not know anything interesting to talk about. This is an old, worn-out excuse which explorers used before Columbus; they could not make up their minds about what to discover. In all likelihood they did not try. The topic that you choose will not be interesting in itself. It is your responsibility to plan to tell the personal experience in an interesting way. You can do this with a little effort. Choose a topic without delay, and then read the rest of this assignment to find out how to prepare and present a speech on the topic you have chosen.

HOW TO PREPARE A SPEECH OF PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

First, decide on your purpose for giving this speech. Do you want to inform your listeners? Do you want to entertain them? It will be wise to work toward one of these ends for this speech.

Now let us assume that you know generally what is expected of you when you give your speech. Let us assume, too, that you have your purpose constantly before you (to entertain or to inform). Now develop your speech in the following order:

Outline your speech in considerable detail. This means that you must set up the order of events you want to talk about.

A. Be sure your outline places these events in their most effective order throughout your talk. A little thought about arrangement will tell you how to place your ideas.

1. In arranging what you will talk about, include your own personal feelings and reactions, the activities of other persons or animals, and objects that made your experience thrilling, exciting, funny… This will add interest.

Practice your speech aloud before friends and in front of a mirror. Do this until you have memorized the sequence of events, not the words. You will quite naturally tend to memorize certain words and phrases and this is all right. But do not under any circumstances memorize the whole speech word for word. Every time you rehearse you will tell the same things, but never with exactly the same words. Each rehearsal will set the pattern of your speech more firmly in mind until after several practices (the number depends on the individual) you will be able to present your speech with full confidence and the knowledge that you know what you are going to say; that is, you know the events and feelings you are going to talk about and describe.

Make a final evaluation of your speech before marking it "ready for presentation". Ask yourself the following questions and be sure that your speech answers each question adequately.

B. Does your speech merely list a series of persons, places, things, and times without telling what happened to these persons and things? (You should vitalize these persons and things by describing what happened and by pointing out unusual or exciting incidents, such as: dangers, or humorous occurrences.) Avoid unnecessary details.

C. Is your speech about you only? If so, you can improve it by talking about the influences that were operating in you presence. For example, if you rescued a drowning person, do not be satisfied to say, "I jumped in and pulled him out." Tell what he was doing, describe his struggles, tell how deep the water was, how far he was from shore, recount your fears and other feelings as you pulled him toward shore, tell how the current almost took you under, demonstrate the way you held him by the hair, … Emphasize such items as your fatigue and near exhaustion as you fought to stay afloat. Here is an example of a "thriller": "We were in swimming. I guess we’d been in about an hour. John got the cramps and yelled for help. I swam over and pulled him out. He almost took me under once, but I got him out and gave him artificial respiration. I learned that when I was a kid. Boy, I sure was scared."(Note: Was this an interesting story of an experience? It could have been, had it been told with vividness and description.)

D. Do you have a curiosity – arousing introduction, one that catches the attention? Check this point carefully.

E. Do you have a conclusion? A speech is never finished without one.

HOW TO PRESENT A SPEECH OF PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

Your attitude regarding yourself and your audience will exert a singular influence upon you and your listeners. You should have a sincere desire to entertain or inform. If it is information that you earnestly desire to give, then you must try to make your audience understand what you are telling. If it is entertainment you want to provide, then you must strive to give enjoyment by amusing and causing smiles and perhaps some laughter. You should not feel that what you have to say is simply not interesting and never was, which is the attitude of some students. Consider for a moment the child who runs to you eagerly, grasps your hand, and excitedly tells you about a big dog two doors down the street. His story no doubt captivates your interest; yet there is nothing inherently interesting about a big dog you have seen many times. Why then are you interested? The answer lies largely in the extreme desire of the child to tell you something. He wants you to understand him, and therein lies the basic secret of giving information to which people will listen attentively. You must have a desire to make your audience understand you or enjoy what you are saying.

As for your body language, demonstrate those points which you can. Let your arms and hands gesture whenever you feel an impulse to do so; otherwise your hands may hang comfortably at your sides, rest easily on a table top or chair back, or be placed conveniently in a pocket. Be calm about putting your hands anywhere. Change your stage position by moving laterally a few feet. This will cause attention to be drawn to your presentation.

Use your voice normally and conversationally. Talk earnestly and loudly enough to be heard by everyone present. If you are truly interested in your audience’s understanding you, your voice modulation and force will take care of themselves very well.

If you use speaking notes, observe the ten-word maximum limit. Have these written in large handwriting so that they may be easily read. Use a paper at least three by five inches in size, preferably larger. Do not fiddle with the paper or roll it into a tube. Hold the notes calmly between your thumb and forefinger in either hand. When referring to your notes, raise them to a level that permits you to glance at them without bowing your head. Do not try to hide them, nor act ashamed of using them. They are your map. Treat them as casually as you would a road map were you taking a trip.

IMPROVE YOUR VOCABULARY

Avid- a. To desire very much. Greedy, rapacious, eager, keen, anxious, athirst, etc. Example: He was an avid wrestling fan. Use this word three or four times daily until it is yours. It will give you a new and expressive term.

Get- Omit this word. Use a synonym to give a variety to your speech. Here are examples: achieve, earn, gain, procure, secure, obtain, acquire, attain, receive, win, etc.

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