Speaking in front of a group can be a challenging, yet rewarding task. Good public speakers however are made, not born. Learning to be a good public speaker is a talent that can be honed and used throughout life. As a student there are numerous opportunities to speak to a group. It could be your homeroom, classmates at a club meeting, the entire school at an assembly, community leaders at an event you may attend, a church function, or even job seekers looking for potential employees.
The skills associated with being a good public speaker have always been an important part of the 4-H experience. Public speaking is generally not on everyone’s favorite thing to do list. But almost everyone will be faced at some time or another with the daunting task of talking in front of a group. But why are we so afraid of this? Why do we so fear getting in front of other people and talking? Most people are their own worst enemy. They fill their heads with thoughts like, “I’m going to forget what I have to say,” “I’m going to look like a fool up there,” “Everyone can see how nervous I am,” or “what if they don't want to hear what I am saying.” These are common thoughts many of us would have before speaking. So, what do we do about these fears? How can we get rid of them or at least try and push the thoughts out of our heads while we talk?
Practice, practice, practice! That’s all it takes. The more your up in front of that group the easier it gets. 4-H provides just that type of practice.
4-H allows students several opportunities to practice their speaking skills and gain valuable experience. Each year the Logan County 4-H hosts a Communications Night, where 4-Hers can compete in speaking and demonstration contests for ribbons and a chance to move on to the area and state level. Through the demonstrations and talks, 4-Hers are able to complete projects and share what they have learned with other people. The hands-on experiences help youth develop self-confidence, poise and other communications skills.
Members also develop a number of life skills including communicating, leadership, planning and organizing, setting goals, motivating themselves, and sharing. The interactions with other people also help youth hone their social skills.
Topics can include agricultural engineering, agricultural sciences, small and large animal sciences, breads, clothing, computer and creative crafts. Others are dairy foods, electrical, general, health, home improvement and management, horticulture, other foods, photography/video photography, safety, small engines and shooting sports.
I know without the experiences and knowledge I gained as a 4-Her, my speaking skills would be very limited and I'd have a much more difficult time getting in front of that group whether it was in grade school, college or my career. Public speaking is definitely a life lesson every student can benefit from.
Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.