What is an anecdote?

An anecdote is a short little scene or story taken from a personal experience. Anecdotes can be useful for setting the stage for a speech or personal essay. An anecdote often relays a story that can be used as a theme or lesson.

The story below could be used as an introduction to a speech or short story about personal safety:

“After the long Ohio winter, I was so happy to see the first signs of spring that I ran outside as soon as I saw our first flower blooming. I plucked the dewy, white blossom and tucked it into my hair band and went about my day with joy in my heart Unfortunately, I didn’t notice that my big white flower had been host to a dozen or -so tiny bugs, that apparently enjoyed a new home in the warmth and security of my hair. I was soon itching and twitching like a scrappy dog. Next time I stop to smell the flowers, I’ll make sure I’ll do it with my eyes wide open.”

The anecdote provides a lead-in to the overall message of your speech or essay. For example, the next sentence after the anecdote could be: “Have you ever run head-first into a situation and run straight into trouble?”

See how this anecdote can provide a moral or backdrop for a speech or essay about staying alert? You can use many small events in your own life as anecdotes to set dr stage for a greater message.