How to Write a Narrative Speech
Most people must give a narrative speech at some point in life. Speeches have a beginning, middle and an ending and speakers signal these speech segments by using short sentences for the main headings. A major consideration when writing the narrative includes deciding how to deliver the speech. An extemporaneous-style delivery of your narrative speech uses only a general outline of the body's main points and a few helpful notes, while manuscript delivery requires writing every word on paper and using this as a script during the delivery.
Select Your Topic
Topic selection for some speakers is the most difficult part of writing the narrative speech. Most people feel some stress when presenting a speech, so stick with the information you know best. This helps you remember while under the stress, even when giving a manuscript-style presentation. Experiences work well as narrative speeches, including interesting personal and life events and family traditions. An introduction about yourself also offers a short narrative topic. Some narrative presentations include a teachable moment or a moral for the listener, but this element is not necessary.
Do the Research
Speech research doesn't always require a trip to the library. Research for a narrative might include talking to family members to confirm important dates or refresh your memory about events for your speech. A narrative speech about an event in the life of another person should include traditional research at the library or using online resources. Keep quotations short, no more than one or two sentences, if you need to use a quote in your speech. Make a note of the source of the quotation and cite that in your speech, so your audience understands the quote belongs to another person.
Organize the Body
Organization helps the audience follow the main points of the speech and remember important parts of your presentation. A chronology, using a timeline for events, offers an easy organization pattern for a narrative speech. An event typically has a beginning, middle and end, and the chronological organization pattern fits the recommendations of the University of Pittsburgh Speaking in the Discipline Initiative by using no more than three separate categories for the body of the speech.
Develop an Introduction
Introductions grab attention, give the listeners a hint of the overall speech topic and offer a smooth transition to guide the audience into the body of the speech. However, the attention-getter should not distract the audience so that the introduction becomes the focus of the speech. A short quotation, anecdote, appropriate humor or fact about the topic of your narrative work well as an introduction. Test your introduction on some friends to make sure it grabs attention.
Write the Conclusion
The conclusion moves you from the front of the room as the speaker back to your seat and signals to the audience that your speech is over. A summary of your main points offers one way to end your presentation. More effective techniques combine that summary with a wrap-up quote, fact or anecdote that reminds your audience of your main topic. A restatement of the moral or lesson works well for a narrative speech with this message.
Lee Grayson has worked as a freelance writer since 2000. Her articles have appeared in publications for Oxford and Harvard University presses and research publishers, including Facts On File and ABC-CLIO. Grayson holds certificates from the University of California campuses at Irvine and San Diego.