5 Tips for building youth’s leadership skills – Part 3: Public speaking skills

Explore some quick suggestions to add opportunities to develop public speaking skills during youth development activities.

Any project or interest area for youth development programs can benefit from adding layers of leadership skills to the experience. Many volunteers with 4-H or other youth development organizations have experience or confidence in certain areas, such as outdoor education or shooting sports, but might not always know how to prepare youth to take on more responsibilities and leadership roles.

Here are a few ways any volunteer can enhance the public speaking skills of their participants:

  • Give youth lots of opportunities to practice speaking in front of their small group to gain confidence. Start small, like giving everyone a chance to speak about their favorite horse movie or what kind of business they would like to operate one day.
  • Have the youth create an advertisement or media campaign about their club, their project or an issue that they feel strongly about.
  • Even in informal settings, encourage youth to speak clearly, organize their thoughts and stand up tall when speaking.
  • Involve youth with real-world issues. Many city and county board meetings have time for public comment, and this is a great opportunity for youth to both learn about civic involvement as well as practice their public speaking skills.
  • Organize a club exchange with another 4-H club in your area, and give each student 3-5 minutes to demonstrate something in their project area. The youth will have a chance to organize and practice their speech, as well as learn new information from other project areas.

When you need new ideas or want some help adding layers of skill-building to your 4-H participants’ experiences, make sure to visit your local 4-H office or check out the Citizenship, Leadership & Service section of the Michigan 4-H website for lots of information! This is the third in a series of how to build leadership skills in youth. Be sure to also read about decision-making skills, responsible leadership, goal-setting skills and problem-solving skills.

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