Lake County 4-H Public Speaking
One of the largest and long withstanding school enrichment programs offered by the county 4-H program is the Lake County 4-H Public Speaking Contest. Since 1969 and since its inception, this program has been offered, over a million 4th-6th grade students have participated. This year, 25 schools partook in this event, with each school sending a winner to compete at the county-wide contest. This year over 3,400 students participated.
In traditional 2020-2021 fashion, the county-wide contest is taking a different approach compared to years past. School classrooms and the county contest were able to deliver their speech contests in mixed mode: in-person and virtual. While it is a unique year, students were still eligible to deliver speeches to classrooms and schools.
Importance of Public Speaking
Public speaking has been rated in numerous studies as one of the all-time top fears; the thought of standing before a group and speaking has given many a brave individual cause to retreat. Studies have shown that students’ public speaking anxiety level decreases over time by participating in public speaking classes. (Rose & Rance, 1993)
Oral communication skills were a top skill that college graduates found useful in the business world, according to a study by sociologist Andrew Zekeri (Zekeri, 2004). While oral communication skills are useful in the workplace, there are many benefits to effectively communicating. Other benefits include an increase in critical thinking, written communication, and leadership skills.
Another positive benefit of public speaking is that it helps students build confidence. While it can be nerve-wracking to deliver the first speech, you will feel a sense of accomplishment and possibly relief after you are done. Judges should provide positive and educational feedback to help you grow and gain confidence in your speaking abilities. As youth practice public speaking, their skills will continue to improve, and they will feel more comfortable in their ability to speak well.