Content Provided by: Helen Rader and Jenifer Simpson
Anecdotes are stories to make a point. They are used to give examples. This is a particularly useful tool in face-to-face meetings with elected representatives, public hearings or meetings, and letters to the editor of a newspaper. People remember anecdotes. For example, if you want to complain about unresponsiveness or insensitivity of the school system to your child, you could talk about your child’s IEP goals and explain how they are not being implemented. OR, you could say:
“My son Sean is in regular kindergarten. He can’t talk. He uses sign language and a machine which talks for him when he pushes buttons. The teacher asked the students to bring in a favorite stuffed animal at story sharing time. Sean brought in his Snoopy, who he carries with him all the time. When it was his turn, the teacher wouldn’t let him use his voice machine. She said it was disruptive and distracting to the other children. She has not learned his signs, so no one understood what he was doing with his hands. Sean stood in front of the class, silent. The teacher and children stared at him for a while and then she instructed him to sit down. He threw himself to the floor and had a temper tantrum. The teacher told the aide to take him out of the room for “time out.” She then reported that Sean was becoming a problem child in her class and asked the principal to work out a behavior modification program.”
A story in short declarative sentences is easier to understand than going into a lot of detail and opinion. Resis the urge to tell five stories when just one will get your point across. Find a powerful story to make your point, and use it.
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