Learning how to speak is an important skill and very valuable throughout your life. Even as an infant learns to form words they are gaining the skill of speech. Learning how to speak in front of your peers is hard for most people. Overcoming that fear can be can be difficult, but as with anything, the more you do it the more comfortable you become and the better job you will do. Professional speakers will tell you that they still get nervous. So make it a good nervous and replace it with excitement. If you are speaking about a topic that you are passionate about or interested in it will make for a more enjoyable experience for you and your audience. Speaking in front of people is one of the most valuable life skills you can obtain. Words can be very powerful and learning how to make an impact with your words is a precious talent.
In 4-H, public speaking is called Youth- in- Action. Every member is encouraged to give a demonstration or illustrated talk during the 4-H year at the club level. This is a requirement to receive your year-end awards. After speaking at the club level, take that talk to the county contest. From the county contest, purple ribbon winners advance to the state fair; youth can also give public presentations at the state horse show. If your talk is in a certain project area, there are prize monies available. A talk at state fair concerning beef or rabbits might find you with incentive prize monies from the SD Beef Industry Council or SD Rabbit Breeders Association.
For most young 4-Hers, your demonstration might be as simple as showing your club how to make a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich. But as you conquer that fear of public speaking and become comfortable, you should apply some more “meat” to your talk. Start by picking your favorite project area that you’ve been active in so far. Research, interview experts, maybe you are the expert. If you need help choosing a topic, call or email your 4-H Youth Program Advisor. There are lots of ideas and resources in the county office. Challenge yourself to be a better speaker and give a better talk than the year before. Senior level 4-Hers should be giving more in-depth talks pertaining to their project areas.You are the role models in your club, so set a good example. When you give a talk or demonstration in your project area you can count it towards earning a project medal. You also learn more about your project area and can share that knowledge with your peers.
Your personal growth is what we as 4-H advisors and leaders want to cultivate and nourish. Youth are the future, so let us help you be better!