Public Speaking Guidelines — All Counties

4-H County & State Public Speaking Tournaments

Please read carefully!
(Updated January 15, 2020)


  • Demonstration: A 4-H youth shows how to do something, while telling how it’s done. A demonstration is a “show how” and “tell how” presentation.
  • Illustrated Talk: A 4-H youth gives information about a subject and uses visuals to explain the topic, describing how to groom a steer, showing the life cycle of a butterfly, or sharing about a family trip would all be examples of this type of presentation.
  • Team Demonstration or Team Illustrated Talk: As above, limit of two team members. Each team’s members (limit of two) should be from the same age division. If not, rules for the member in the older division will be followed.


All ages based on the age of the 4-H youth as of December 31.

  • Cloverbuds (ages 5 to 8): May participate in any public speaking category (listed above) at the club, or county, level for the experience. They may participate in the County Public Speaking Tournament, but not the State Tournament. They will not be judged, but they will receive helpful hints and gain much from the experience. Cloverbuds receive participation ribbons.
  • Juniors (ages 9 to 13)
  • Seniors (ages 14 to 18)


Official time keepers will deduct two points from the overall score if the presentation runs over/under the allotted time. The County and/or State Tournament chairperson has the right to stop a presentation that has exceeded the time limit.

  • Cloverbuds: 3-5 minutes in length
  • Juniors: 3-8 minutes in length
  • Seniors: 5-10 minutes in length


In order for youth to have their presentations at their best, encourage them to pick out their topics and presentation type in December. They should prepare and practice their presentations in January. It is suggested that 4-H members compete in a Club or School Public Speaking Tournament in February.  Each club or school selects delegates to send to the County Public Speaking Tournament. If your county holds a County 4-H Public Speaking Tournament, Club, School & Independent delegate names must be given to the County Extension Office in order to participate in the County Tournament. Include each youth’s name, 4-H age, club name, title of demonstration or illustrated talk, and whether it will be an individual or team presentation.

Contact your County Extension Office for more information on county tournament registration requirements, tournament dates, and registration deadlines.

Presentations will be judged based on the Danish System – see Evaluation Worksheet for more details on this.


All youth in the junior and senior divisions (ages 9 to 18 in 4-H years) participating in a County Public Speaking Tournament – or as viewed and judged by their individual County Extension Office if no County Tournament is available – and receiving an average score of 78 or higher, are invited to compete at the State Public Speaking Tournament. The 2022 Maine 4-H State Tournament will be held on April 9th at the University of Maine at Orono and virtually over Zoom.



  • A white POSTER done by the 4-H youth for the demonstration is required. Use bold black  State the ingredients or supplies needed plus state the source. It should not list the steps used to complete the demonstration. Size is at the discretion of the youth, but should not exceed one full poster board.
  • TITLE POSTER is optional. Color, cut outs or drawings may enhance the page. If you choose to include a title poster, it may be a separate board or you may put it on the back side of the required poster.

Illustrated Talks

  • Must use visuals that enhance the presentation. These may include posters, objects, costumes, slide shows, handouts, PowerPoint presentations and more.


  • Live animals are not permitted.
  • All presentations should promote or identify 4-H in some way, such as on posters, flags, tablecloth, or mentioned in oral presentation.
  • Please note that, while youth may have assistance from other 4-H youth, parents and other adults are not allowed to help in any way.  Youth may, and are encouraged, to ask other 4-Hers to help them if they need any assistance. Two points will be deducted from the overall score if there is adult participation in a presentation or the set up of a presentation. The exception to this would be if there is an adult assigned to help with technology set-up for computer presentations.


These guidelines, evaluation sheets, specific guidelines on preparing 4-H illustrated talks and demonstrations — including specific details for cooking demonstrations, and other materials are available at your County Extension Office or at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension website, where you can also find sample demonstration and illustrated talk videos.

For more information, or if you have any questions, call your County Extension Office or contact Sheila Norman, UMaine Extension in Penobscot and Piscataquis Counties: at or 207.942.7396 or 800.287.1485 or cell: 207.751.7542.