4-H Public Presentations
4-H members develop their public speaking skills through our presentations program. Within each 4-H club members are encouraged to develop a public presentation of their choice. (The topic need not be related to the club’s activities.) The program’s intent is for 4-H members to learn to share information while teaching poise and developing self-confidence.
Most of us were required to make presentations in school. The topics varied with the teacher and the subject and while there may have been some choice, the presentation was usually confined to the school curriculum. By contrast, 4-H members choose a topic on their own. This encourages them to research an area of their interest, to learn about it and then construct a presentation sharing what they have learned. This process educates not only the 4-H members, adults involved with the program learn about the diverse interests of our youth.
While 4-H members choose their topic, volunteer-led workshops assist them in developing their presentations. These cover basics such as researching and organizing ideas as well as providing tips for assembling visual aids. Members receive guidance on how to deliver their presentation to ensure that their message is understood. As a final step, workshop leaders demonstrate how to respond to questions following a presentation.
After developing their presentation, 4-H members present it to their clubs. Here they receive feedback and encouragement from their club leaders. All members, and this may include a broad range of ages, are encouraged to participate. We’ve found that starting at a young age often eliminates any fears of public speaking in later years. Presenting in front of people you know serves as a good first step for getting comfortable with speaking in front of other audiences.
In March, members have the opportunity to present at the county level. Here they give their presentation to members from other clubs and in front of judges. The judges’ role is not so much to score the presentations, but to offer constructive feedback and positive reinforcement. Here in Sussex, the county level presentation program has become so popular that there are now 300 presentations scheduled across three evenings.
Over time 4-H members build their presentation skills. Once they are fourteen, if members receive an excellent score during county presentations (members receive scores of good, very good or excellent), they are eligible to participate at the state 4-H competition held in June at Rutgers University. Sussex County is traditionally well represented at the state competition as an average of ten 4-H members participates each year.
For many of us the requirement to make formal presentations may end with our time in school. However there will always be opportunities when we are required to present our ideas. Through the presentations program 4-H members learn to present themselves clearly and convincingly while developing confidence, poise and self esteem. Additionally they learn to listen to the opinions of others while responding thoughtfully and intelligently to questions.