A 2001 Gallup poll found that 40% of Americans suffer from glossophobia, or fear of public speaking. This statistic inspired the famous joke by stand-up comedian Jerry Seinfeld that at most funerals, “the average person would prefer to be the one in the casket rather than the one delivering the eulogy.” Fortunately, 4-H offers an easy antidote through our public speaking program. 4-H public speaking helps youth:
- Demonstrate mastery of a subject
- Practice quality communication
- Increase self-confidence when speaking in front of others.
How and where would you find a 4-H volunteer teaching public speaking? Almost anywhere you’ll find 4-H activities! Here are some examples:
- 4-H Community and Project Clubs
- Florida 4-H/Tropicana Public Speaking Contest
- Demonstrations and illustrated talks given at County, District and State Events
The main public speaking education program supported by your 4-H Office is called County Events.
What is County Events?
County Events is a venue in which 4-H’ers can share what they have learned in their project work though several different contests, including demonstrations and illustrated talks. These are show-and-tell type presentations lasting 3-12 minutes in which a 4-H member shows mastery of a subject matter area. Some contest regulations include:
- Talks must fall between 3-12 minutes for juniors and intermediates, and 5-12 minutes for seniors.
- Team demonstrations must show active, equal participation of both members.
- Presentation must fall under an approved category.
Creating a Presentation
- Topic Selection- should be age appropriate and preferably related to their 4-H project.
- Organizing Thoughts- points should be logical and support the main theme.
- Visuals- neat, attractive and easy to read
- Practice Strategies- club meetings are a great place to practice and practice makes perfect!
Creating Buy in
Last month our Make a Difference Monday online volunteer training addressed ways for club leaders and parents to get their youth excited about public speaking. Regional Specialized 4-H Agent Stacey Ellison shared some creative ideas to encourage youth and families to “buy in” to the idea of public speaking:
- Set expectations
- Have older youth mentor younger youth
- Use the team approach
- Approach it as a game show or cooking show where they can highlight their knowledge or skills
Awards and Recognition
County Events combine two forms of achievement and recognition for youth. These are:
- Standards of Excellence (youth are judged against a set of age-appropriate score cards)
- Peer Competition (a panel of judges subjectively identifies, in a concrete time and place, the best teams or individuals through ranking)
Through this dual recognition system it would be possible for a blue ribbon presentation to place third in peer competition. All 4-H’ers who achieve blue ribbon standard at the county level move forward to the district level of competition.
If you have a passion for public speaking, consider becoming a 4-H volunteer. We are in need of judges for our speech contests as well as speech coaches. For more information on County Events please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.org.