One must know how to ask for things, how to explain things, and how to speak persuasively enough to win the active support of others. Resourcefulness and adaptability in speech may be regarded as essential to success in every occupation.
Purpose and Objectives
The 4-H Public Speaking Program provides opportunities for 4-H’ers to learn skills in articulating a message. The objectives are to:
- Develop leadership talents and work toward character development and effective citizenship;
- Recognize the value of obtaining all available information on a given topic;
- Encourage careful organization of materials to be presented;
- Develop a pleasing personal appearance before an audience;
- Acquire the ability to speak convincingly in public.
Preparing a Speech
Select a Topic
To give a talk, you must have something to say. The ideas that can be generated from your own experiences are endless. The following examples are just a few of the many topics you might discuss in your speech:
- Youth and Adults as Partners
- The Environment—A Delicate Balance in the New Millenium
- Human Rights Are Still an Issue
- What Does 4-H Mean to Me?
- What Is Teen Leadership?
- The 4-H Club as a Microcosm of Society
- Youth’s Role in Community Action
- Building Bridges to International Understanding
- Love and Work Are Four-Letter Words
- 4-H Projects of Interest to Urban Youth
- Alcohol and Drugs—A Problem for Teens
When you select a topic, focus on a main idea or theme. Build your speech around this focal point. Don’t try to cover too broad a subject.
Research and Know Your Topic
Once you decide on a topic, spend some time just writing down any thoughts that come to mind. Do this quickly without thinking much about each individual idea.
You can write your speech from these many thoughts, but you must present them logically (in some order). However, you can make your talk more interesting by gathering information from a variety of sources. Draw on your own experiences, and talk to your teachers, other 4-H members, and leaders. Also, read textbooks, newspapers, magazines, or visit Web sites on the Internet to research current events that might tie into your speech. Be current.
Organizing Your Notes
Now you are ready to organize your speech. You should organize your talk in three main parts.
Introduction—Attract attention with a quotation, poem, joke, or a startling question or statement of fact. Those first few words count! Spark the interest of your audience and they will stay with you throughout your presentation. State the purpose of your speech and what you hope to accomplish. In other words, these suggestions are means for you to introduce your speech.
Body—The body is the meat of your talk. There are several ways you can present information to your audience. You might like to try one or more of the patterns described below.
- Time pattern: arrange your talk historically around the past, present, and future.
- Space sequence: arrange your talk geographically. For example, you might be interested in water pollution, and could trace it from its source as it moves downstream.
- Problem-effect-solution: this approach is very effective in speeches because your experiences tend to fall into these categories. For example, the oven was too hot, the biscuits burned, so the biscuits were fed to the birds. Arrange your talk by stating a problem, describing its effects, and suggesting ways to solve it.
- Narrative sequence: in simple terms, tell your story from beginning to end
Remember—it’s your story, so be sure to put yourself into it.