Public speaking is one of the competitions 4-H offers, and an engaging topic will get you off to a good start. Because you have limited time to present your material, focus on a topic that's simple and straightforward, so you don't have to waste time giving lengthy, complicated explanations. Select a topic that you're already familiar with, so you don't have to spend huge amounts of time doing research and can focus on your writing strengths and presentation style. Consult your state's 4-H public speaking handbook to ensure you meet all the speech competition requirements.
Skillls You Developed in 4-H
Choose a topic related to something you learned how to do or mastered during your experiences with 4-H. For example, you might discuss how you learned to feed, raise and care for sheep, cows or pigs. Or, you might prepare a speech on tips you learned for growing pumpkins, using needlepoint or creating charcoal drawings. Focus on ways your topic helped you become more aware of animal needs or agriculture, or how your topic helped you express your feelings through artistic expression.
Craft your speech around a favorite hobby or pastime. For example, you might discuss how you learned to scuba dive and what you gained from your diving experiences. Or, you might talk about your ability to craft beaded jewelry and how you use those skills to make bracelets for school fundraisers or birthday gifts. Stress how your interest in that hobby has changed or improved your life. Ask yourself, "In what ways does this hobby help meet the needs of those around me?" or "How does this hobby make me more environmentally aware?"
Orchestrate your speech around a life event that you think others might like to know about. For example, you might discuss how you lost your dog and went about finding him by posting ads, contacting animal shelters and conducting neighborhood searches. You might talk about ways you survived a camping trip after the wind blew your tent away, or how you adjusted to having a new baby sister in the house. Focus on a single life event or theme, so your speech fits within the required time frame yet provides enough details so listeners get the full story.
Local Current Events
Select a current event for your 4-H speech. Make sure the topic is timely and relevant, so listeners relate to your interest and concerns regarding the subject. Read your local newspaper, watch the news or research the topic online to better understand why the event deserves attention and further analysis. Choose a current event that affects you or others in your community, such as how closing down a local production plant will affect your economy or how constructing a highway will help or hurt local business.
- University of Nebraska, Lincoln: A Guide to Making Great 4-H Speeches
- Tennessee 4-H: Public Speaking Contest
- University of Delaware: Public Speaking & Demonstrations
- University of Florida: Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences: Speech Topic Ideas
- University of Wisconsin Extension: Part 1 -- Choosing Your Speech Topic
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