4-H Public Speaking

Public speaking.
Two words that can strike fear in the hearts of students and adults everywhere.

Although intimidating, most people agree that it’s also one of life’s most useful skills. The benefits of communicating effectively in public, range from developing critical thinking skills to fine-tuning verbal and nonverbal skills.

Juniors Group with the certificates and ribbons won at the 4-H Public Speaking event 2022
4-H Public Speaking Junior Awards Group, April 9, 2022. For More Photos: 2022 4-H Public Speaking Photo Gallery. — UMaine Extension Photo

Over the last several years, practicing public speaking skills also has grown in popularity among members of University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s many 4-H programs as they recognize it as an exciting opportunity. Public speaking is an important part of one’s 4-H career, even for those who do not pursue formal public speaking opportunities. Many 4-H alumni report how important it was to have public speaking skills when they applied to college, interviewed for jobs, or interacted with adult peers. 

Through this public speaking program, 4-Hers learn to evaluate basic skills, give and receive constructive feedback, and build confidence to express themselves in various life situations. Youth who choose to participate in competitive public speaking tournaments select a topic that they feel is important to share, develop a presentation, practice it with family and fellow club members, and enter the county tournament. If they achieve a minimum score there, they qualify for the state tournament which is open to youth ages nine and older.

Seniors Group holding certificates and ribbons won during the 4-H Public Speaking event 2022
4-H Public Speaking Senior Awards Group, April 9, 2022. For More Photos: 2022 4-H Public Speaking Photo Gallery. — UMaine Extension Photo

The 2022 Maine 4-H Public Speaking Tournament was the first-ever hybrid edition, with seven virtual presentations, two in-person demonstrations, and 18 in-person illustrated talks on a wide range of topics including beekeeping, how to make slime, why we smile, and equine dentistry. A new category of competition, impromptu or extemporaneous speech, also was introduced this year. For this part of the competition, participants chose a topic at random and were given three minutes to develop an outline, jotting notes on one blank notecard, for a three- to five-minute speech. Though certainly a challenge, this new category was a hit with the many participants who gave it a try and with the audience. All involved expressed a desire to continue this opportunity in the future, which will eventually lead to official scoring. 

UMaine Extension 4-H is the most successful out-of-school youth educational program in the state. Through positive youth development – learning by doing along with their peers, building life skills in a safe environment, with caring, trained adults who lead by example – youth are encouraged to find their passion and learn to thrive in today’s changing and challenging world.

For more information about 4-H Public Speaking, including guidelines and evaluation sheets, upcoming event information, and resources to assist you in planning your demonstration or illustrated talk, contact Sheila Norman at 207.942.7396 or sheila.norman@maine.edu. You may also contact your local UMaine Extension county office for information about 4-H Public Speaking in your county.

2022 4-H Public Speaking Photo Gallery

Photo highlights of the 2022 4-H Public Speaking Event, April 9, 2022. — UMaine Extension Photos.