What are the judges REALLY looking for on County Events Day?

How hard would it be to play a game if no one told you the rules or how to win? How would you feel? How long would it hold your interest? If you kept trying again and again but continued to lose, would you keep playing?

Often, youth go into contests without knowing what they need to do to be successful. While winning isn’t everything, losing certainly isn’t fun! When preparing for a 4-H competition or exhibition, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the rules and/or have an idea of how the event will be judged.

For many of us, County Events Day is quickly approaching! Here are some tips and hints to help you stand out from the crowd and be sure that your performance pleases the judges!

Public Speaking

In the Public Speaking event, the exhibitor writes a speech that they will practice and present before the judges. Note cards are allowed for reference for this event, but the speech should be performed primarily from memory.

How it’s judged:
Composition (55 points)
  • Choice of material
    • Is the topic age/skill appropriate for the youth?
  • Comprehension and accuracy
    • Is it apparent that the youth is knowledgeable on the information being presented and do they cite credible sources?
  • Organization of Material
    • Interesting introduction, main points well organized, main points restated in conclusion
  • Use of language
    • Good grammar, topic understandable as described
  • Related to 4-H
    • Be sure to mention 4-H and how your topic relates to 4-H
Presentation (45 points)
  • Projection to audience and voice control
    • Relaxed, smooth delivery; spoken clearly
  • Eye contact and poise
    • Speaker maintains eye contact with the audience, effective use of notes (if used), effective regulation of volume and rate of speech.
  • Appearance
    • Neat, well groomed, good posture, nice blouse and skirt/slacks for girls, collared shirt and slacks for boys
Time limits

Juniors and Intermediates

  • General: 3 – 7 min
  • Horse: 3 – 7 min


  • General: 5 – 7 min
  • Horse: 8 – 10 min

** 5 points are deducted if speech does not fall within allotted time.

Demonstrations & Illustrated Talks

Demonstrations and illustrated talks allow the use of props and/or visual aids, which often make these events more appealing to youth than traditional public speaking. Even better, you can have a friend or two join in to help you out if that makes you feel more confident! Your team mates just need to be in the same age division as you. This division is also open to Cloverbuds!

A demonstration requires the youth to teach the audience how to do something while explaining the process. An illustrated talk is a simple speech or lesson with visual aids to guide the presenter. Visual aids can be provided in the form of posters or power point presentations.

How it’s judged:
The 4-H Member (20 points)
  • Appearance and poise
    • Neat, well groomed, good posture, appropriately dressed for task being performed. Calm, pleasant and confident; keeps composure when something appears to go wrong.
  • Voice and grammar
    • Distinct, yet natural. Clear, enthusiastic voice. Correct, well-chosen words; not memorized.
Organization & Presentation (30 points)
  • Introduction
    • Effective, interesting. Brief explanation of presentation and introduction of 4-H’er. Gets audience’s attention.
  • Arrangement and use of equipment
    • Right equipment for the job, used correctly, and arranged so that the audience can see what’s being done.
  • Visual Aids
    • Equipment, models, charts and supplies effective. Chose the best teaching aid to tell the story. Concise, large enough, and appropriate. Visual aids are utilized during presentation.
  • Logical Sequence
    • Well organized in clear, logical steps; evident that 4-H’er has practiced.
  • Ability to work easily and efficiently
    • Steps, illustrative material, and explanation are coordinated. Information given fills the time and all is related to task at hand.
  • Summary
    • Key points summarized, reliable sources cited.
  • Ability to work as a team (if giving team demo)
    • Spoken parts are divided evenly and team members work together well.
Subject Matter (50 points)
  • Selection of subject
    • Practical value of topic; related to their 4-H experiences (projects, activities, etc.)
  • One basic theme
    • Presentation is confined to one theme
  • Accurate, up-to-date, and complete
    • Information is correct, current, and all steps are shown
  • Degree of difficulty
    • Material sufficiently challenges the 4-H’er age/skill level
  • Knowledge of subject and related skills
    • Understands principles and practices presented
  • Results
    • Finished product good or purpose is accomplished
Time limits

Cloverbuds: 2 – 3 min

Juniors and Intermediates: 3 – 12 min

Seniors: 5 – 12 min

** 5 points are deducted if speech does not fall within allotted time.


Share-the-Fun is the talent show portion of County Events. So if you can sing, dance, or have another fun talent, share it!

How it’s Judged:
Talent (30 points)

Ability, expertise, proficiency, timing.

Showmanship (35 points)

Poise, confidence, projection, ability to recover from mistakes, well-rehearsed, strong stage presence.

Stage Appearance (35 points)

Clever, creative wardrobe and prop placement, age appropriate, continuity, special effects (no special considerations for expensive effects).

Time limits

Acts should be 3 – 5 min in duration for all age divisions.

** 5 points are deducted if speech does not fall within allotted time.

Remember to pick a topic that interests you and that you’re PASSIONATE AND EXCITED to share with others! This will help keep you from being so nervous, because you’ll be excited to share something you love! It can be anything, from issues in the beef industry today to flying drones. It just needs to be important to YOU.

For more tips and tricks, check out the following links:

Public-Speaking-Tips (ufl.edu)


All County Events are judged using a rubric. If you’d like to see a full break down of the evaluation for your event, reach out to your local 4-H extension professional!

Good luck!


Posted: January 3, 2022

Category: 4-H & Youth, Curriculum, Events,
Tags: 4-H, 4-H County Events, 4-H Demonstration, 4-H District Events, 4-H Illustrated Talk, 4-H Public Speaking, 4-H Share-the-fun, 4-H State Events, Public Speaking

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