[The following outline shows how a story of my father's funeral could be broken down into phases which give structure to the narrative. Note that the presentation has an introduction which creates interest (in this case, some suspense) and a conclusion which draws the story to a close by emphasizing the significance of the experience in my life. The key words are selected to remind me about the details of the story, so that I can "tell" the story in a way which looks spontaneous, even though I may have practiced it many times.]

  I.     Introduction. The call at 3:30 a.m.

 II.    Closing the relationship with my father.

A.    The trip home.

1.    Reminiscing across Colorado.

2.    The fear of viewing my father.

B.    The funeral.

1.    At the funeral home.

2.    The family ceremony.

III.    Conclusion: My father "lives."


The following topics for the Significant Experience Speech have resulted from brainstorming in various COMM 100 classes. When you look at them, don't worry about what they meant to the students who brainstormed them. Instead consider whether they remind you of something which happened to you. Another way of finding topics is to ask your friends and family about your significant experiences. Sometimes they can think of experiences which you are ignoring.

Accidents/injuries Conflict First time events
Death of loved one Birth Getting married/divorced
Facing death/disability Diseases Extreme sports
Holiday events Surgery Moments in sports
Object of discrimination Children Body piercing/tattoos
Raising/caring for kids Childhood Attaining a goal
Crime/arrest/lawsuit Martial arts Religious conversions
Making music/art Gambling Spiritual events
Repossessing cars Animals/pets Paranormal events
Outdoor recreation Travel events Returning to school
Alcohol/drug recovery Dating Military/boot camp
Rescue/CPR Natural disaster Care giving/hospice
Meeting people Job experiences Volunteer work

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Copyright 2000, Richard D. Rowley
Last revised: October 29, 2001 .