Incorporating Examples

Since it can be difficult to find the perfect story to prove your point, you may need to create a hypothetical example that is plausible and grounded in fact. Always be transparent about where your story originated to maintain your credibility. Review this article for some examples.

An example is a cited case that is representative of a larger whole. Examples are especially beneficial when presenting information that an audience may not be familiar with. They are also useful for repackaging or reviewing information that has already been presented. Examples can be used in many different ways, so you should let your audience, purpose and thesis, and research materials guide your use.

You may pull examples directly from your research materials, making sure to cite the source.

The following is an example used in a speech about the negative effects of standardized testing:

"Standardized testing makes many students anxious, and even ill. On March 14, 2002, the Sacramento Bee reported that some standardized tests now come with instructions indicating what teachers should do with a test booklet if a student throws up on it". You may also cite examples from your personal experience, if appropriate: "I remember being sick to my stomach while waiting for my SAT to begin".

You may also use hypothetical examples, which can be useful when you need to provide an example that is extraordinary or goes beyond most people's direct experience. Capitalize on this opportunity by incorporating vivid descriptions into the example that appeals to the audience's senses. Always make sure to indicate when you are using a hypothetical example, as it would be unethical to present an example as real when it is not. Including the word imagine or something similar in the first sentence of the example can easily do this.

Whether real or hypothetical, examples used as supporting material can be brief or extended. Brief examples are usually one or two sentences, as you can see in the following hypothetical example:

"Imagine that your child, little sister, or nephew has earned good grades for the past few years of elementary school, loves art class, and also plays on the soccer team. You hear the unmistakable sounds of crying when he or she comes home from school and you find out that art and soccer have been eliminated because students did not meet the federal guidelines for performance on standardized tests."

Brief examples are useful when the audience is already familiar with a concept or during a review.

Extended examples, sometimes called illustrations, are several sentences long and can be effective in introductions or conclusions to get the audience's attention or leave a lasting impression.

It is important to think about relevance and time limits when considering using an extended illustration. Since most speeches are given within time constraints, you want to make sure the extended illustration is relevant to your speech purpose and thesis and that it doesn't take up a disproportionate amount of the speech. If a brief example or series of brief examples would convey the same content and create the same tone as the extended example, I suggest you go with brevity.

Creative Commons License This text was adapted by Saylor Academy under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License without attribution as requested by the work's original creator or licensor.

Last modified: Wednesday, September 23, 2020, 2:05 PM