A Personal Essay + Research Paper = Experiment #3

My experiment #3 may sound a little unconventional… but I want to combine two genres (is this allowed?). My Genre X for experiment 3 will look partially like a psychological research paper, but also including some personal experience. Since my origin piece was already a personal narrative, I don’t want to repeat what I’ve already done. Instead, I want to build on my own personal experience with complicated sibling relationships with some backup from the world of Psychology.

As a psych major, I’m already interested in everything about social relationships: how they develop, change, manifest in distinct personality types and distinct situations. So, I’d like to do a little psychoanalysis of my own relationship with my two brothers. I’ve noticed with my last two experiments that I have too many unanswered questions. With this next experiment, I want to actually begin answering the question: why are sibling relationships the way they are?

After experiment 2, it is clear that I can’t answer a question this extensive merely with my own personal stories, I need to do some real content research. I think by combining forces with psychology, I will be able to create a much more well-rounded piece, that will also perfectly combine my interests of psychology and writing.

As far as defining these two genres, I’ve discovered a few things. According to UW Madison’s writing center to begin content research for an essay I should:


  • Try to find a topic that truly interests you
  • Try writing your way to a topic
  • Talk with your course instructor and classmates about your topic
  • Pose your topic as a question to be answered or a problem to be solved


You will need to look at the following types of sources:

  • library catalog, periodical indexes, bibliographies, suggestions from your instructor
  • primary vs. secondary sources
  • journals, books, other documents


The following systems will help keep you organized:

  • a system for noting sources on bibliography cards
  • a system for organizing material according to its relative importance
  • a system for taking notes

Well, step 1 is complete. I have the topic that interests me, but I will definitely be using these pointers to begin content research for my paper.

On the other hand, I looked at some characteristics of personal essays. According to ThoughtCo, there are 6 simple steps to writing the perfect personal essay…

  1. Find Inspiration and Ideas (CHECK!)
  2. Understand the composition of the essay (intro, body, conclusion… yeah, yeah tell me something I don’t know)
  3. Use appropriate voice of essay and verbs (I’m not sure I need a grammar lesson but voice will definitely be important..)
  4. Be consistent with point of view and tense (but how consistent???)
  5. Use your own vocabulary (that’s a given)
  6. Edit, Edit, Edit (yep!)

In order to combine these two different genres, I plan on maintaining my voice in the essay and incorporating personal anecdotes to establish why I’m writing this and why anyone should care. However, I will also be including some outside research, so that the reader can learn something from reading my piece. I can’t tell you why sibling relationships are the way they are, but me, myself, and a little help from psychology can certainly try.

Looking Out For Yourself

During my sophomore year at Ross, we were forced to go to 10 guest speakers during the first semester. It was a hassle to say the least, and some of the speeches were even quite dry. However, somewhere in the middle was a man named Marcus Collins. He was able to captivate an audience like I have never seen before. His story was incredible and his physical delivery was impeccable. To this day, whenever I give a speech I try to speak with the confidence and energy that he portrayed. Following in this inspiration, I have decided that the genre that I will be working with for experiment three is speeches; specifically speeches that are framed as Ted Talks, the way Marcus’ was.

Pictured Above: Marcus Collins.

After evaluating multiple speeches, one of which being Marcus’, I have come to decide that this way of giving speeches is by far the most effective to hit the audience I am trying to hit (high school and college age students). There were very large discrepancies between the “Ted Talk” speech and the commencement speeches that I evaluated. The former being infinitely more lively as the speaker worked his way across the stage, towards and back from the audience, and utilized emotion to have so much more of an effect than the commencement speakers. I feel that this is a direct result of the setting in which the speeches occurred as Denzel Washington and J.K. Rowling (two of the commencement speakers) are nothing short of spectacular people, they just seemingly had to tame themselves in the situation.


I hope that the following “How To Give an Engaging Speech” guide will benefit you and lead you in a way that helps you to captivate audiences.

  1. Find Your Passion
  • What do you want to talk about? This is not a guide to give a classroom speech, for this guide to be effective, you need to have a passion for what you are discussing.
  1. Know Your Passion Inside, Outside, and In Between
  • In order to have flow and to be able to use the next step, it is critical to know your topic inside and out. Knowing as much as possible about your topic allows you to just get up there and talk. I know that sounds easier than it is, but if you think about your favorite thing in the world (say… football) you can get up there and just talk football. That’s because you know football, you know teams, you know players, you know stadiums, you know the rules, you know everything.
  1. Create a Minimalist Script
  • Most people assume that to give a good speech, you need a thorough script. However, I disagree, I believe that taking a minimalist mindset when preparing a script for a speech is a much more beneficial strategy. Writing out just the main ideas that you want to cover will afford you the ability to be yourself and show your true self when speaking. It also creates better flow as you aren’t struggling to remember all of a potentially hour long speech.
  1. Practice!
  • How do you practice a speech that doesn’t have a script? You just talk, the same way you’ll just talk when you’re on stage. You know the main points, you know the order of those main points, and you know as much as there is to know about your topic. So…. Just go talk about it! To your friends, your family, anyone who will listen.



Now, I know there is more to giving a good speech than that but that’s the beauty of this kind of speech…. It’s your speech and it’s your passion. In this subsection of speeches, there is no right way, your way is the right way because this “Ted Talk” is yours and if you are lively and engaging and you know your topic, it will be successful.



With my “Ted Talk” speech, I hope to reach an audience of high school and college aged students. For them I hope to pose and begin to answer the question, “What does it mean to look out for yourself?” Within this question I will be exploring the selfish/selflessness involved in the situation (specifically, considering when it is time to let some of your friends go that may be holding you back from your true potential – similar to Gordie Lachance in “The Body”). This is a great genre to enter this conversation as a lively discussion is one of, if not the best, way to engage and communicate to high school and college students. It far surpasses a long article or an essay, and a blog post just won’t do it justice. This conversation is one that needs to be had face to face and with the spoken word.