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Speeches and demonstrations and skits – oh my!
michelle beran
Michelle Beran

On Sunday, Feb. 23, the halls of Ellinwood High School turned a bit green as 57 4-H entries were presented for 4-H Club Day! 

Communication skills are necessary for everyone in every job. Our littlest 4-H members start out by presenting “Show and Share” with the goal of being able to look the judge in the eye and talk. 

As they get a little older, they have the opportunity to develop and present Demonstrations which show how to do something or Illustrated Talks which tells how something is done. These involve preparing materials and an outline and visual aids. As timed events, it is also important to learn to manage your time well.

Older 4-H members expand their presentation skills by adding public speaking and extemporaneous speaking to the demonstrations and illustrated talk options. Public speaking is excellent practice for a lifetime of presentations whether that is used at work, on a board, or with a civic organization. Extemporaneous speaking is probably one of the toughest categories! Participants have ten minutes to draw from a selection of topics, prepare their thoughts, and record their main points on a single notecard. It challenges youth to quickly organize their thoughts and confidently present their topic.

In addition to speaking opportunities, many clubs will work together to present a club skit. Teamwork, organization, and planning are all important skills as the club coordinates to showcase their members in a fun and inventive way.

One of the most challenging club events is the model meeting. 4-H Clubs learn and practice parliamentary procedure at each meeting and the model meeting event gives them a place to show what they know! They must provide an agenda to the judge prior to the meeting and secretary minutes immediately following. There are requirements as to the number of motions that must be included. This is a great life skill for anyone who will sit on a board or committee!

Also included in 4-H Club Day is the opportunity for 4-H members to present music, dance, and talent numbers.

In all cases, these are preformed before a judge who will provide feedback in addition to a ribbon placing. This consultative judging is a regular part of 4-H learning.

Cottonwood-Barton 4-H participates in a regional contest so qualifiers from most areas are eligible to present at the next level with the best of five other counties. Regional Club Day will occur on March 13 in Great Bend.

Those who receive top placings at County 4-H Club Day also have the opportunity to present their Demonstration or Illustrated Talk at the Kansas State Fair. If you ever walk through the 4-H Centennial Hall building at State Fair, you may have seen youth from across the state presenting on one of two stages. 

Practicing the life skills of communication, organization, and planning are really the why behind 4-H Day! Poise, confidence, and self-assurance grow every time a presentation is given. Be on the lookout for these young leaders and their growing communication skills!

Michelle Beran is the 4-H and Youth Development Agent for the Cottonwood District, Barton County office. For more information on this article or other 4-H Youth and Development related questions email Michelle at or call 620-793-1910.