4-H Presentations

Presentations are one of the many aspects about 4-H that makes it original.  Members of all ages are encouraged to create a presentation on a topic that they enjoy.  After creating this presentation, they will be given the opportunity to present it in front of an audience, in order to boost their public speaking skills.  In the Eco-Maniacs, we provide excellent advice for each presenter.  

Below, you can switch through the tabs to learn more about these presentations.

There are essentially two groups of presenters.  The first group includes participants 7th grade and below, while the second group includes participants 8th grade and above.  Depending on which group the participant is in, the requirements may differ.

Presenters that are 7th grade and below must have a presentation that is 5-12 minutes long, and presenters 8th grade and above must have a presentation between 8-15 minutes.  Presenters begin by presenting to their clubs.  After club presentations, they move on to the county level.

In order to participate in the county presentations, participants must sign up for a particular date.  County levels include two judges who score presentations out of a total of 103 points.  These judges use a rubric that will be handed out during a club meeting.  The final score is out of 100, but 3 extra points can be added if the speaker goes above and beyond the expectations.  If participants manage to get a certain score from one or both the judges, then they will move on to the State level presentations.

States presentations are very different from county presentations.  In county presentations, presenters are grouped by rooms and judged for each individual presentation.  However, in State presentations, a single presenter in each room is selected as a winner.  At a later time in the same day, there will be an award ceremony announcing the best presenter out of the room.

Now that you have a basic understanding of how presentations work, its important to realize that there are four types of presentations.  To learn more about the types of presentations, choose the next tab.

There are four types of presentations: Illustrated Talks, Formal Speeches, Demonstrations, and Performing Arts.

An illustrated talk is the best presentation option as a beginner.  This is basically a PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation. The first slide should be the title, followed by a summary slide.  This slide should list everything that will be included in the presentation.  Next comes the actual content of the presentation. At the end of every presentation, always ask the audience if they have any questions.  This gives an indication to the judges that the presentation is over and they may ask questions.

A formal speech is something to try after a couple of years of experience presenting.  It is not easy to keep the audience's interest, and requires a lot of skill. This speech should be on on a specific topic of interest.  It is very similar to an illustrated talk, but doesn't include any slides or visual aids.​Keep in mind that while preparing a formal speech, it should stay focused on one topic rather than going back and forth on tangents.

A demonstration is a presentation where presenters take a concept and try to demonstrate it to the judges.  Before performing such demonstrations, the performer must be excel at doing it themselves.  ​While performing demonstrations, it is important to keep the audience interested.  Often, audience members will start to lose focus if silence is maintained for long periods of time.​It is recommended that members have lots of experience with other types of presentations before attempting a demonstration.

Performing arts are a type of presentation where presenters must perform something in front of an audience.   This performance may be many different things, but it is suggested to keep the audience entertained throughout the presentation.

The design of a presentation is perhaps one of the most crucial parts in order to gain the audience's interest.  Below are a few key points of designing a presentation.

Putting Together A Title
Every presentation must include a title that brings the audience in anticipation of the subject. The title should not be too long, but still be related to the subject of the presentation.  The reason it shouldn't be too long is because the title doesn't add too much content to the presentation. It is something short and simple, yet inspirational that the audience will remember for a long time. Therefore, don't overthink the title.

Images Versus Text
The content of the presentation should have an equal balance of images to text. Having a whole essay on one slide is not very entertaining to viewers, even if you just summarize the paragraphs. Instead, choose bullet points of 3-4 words per bullet point. Try limiting yourself to 4 bullet points per page, and include 1-2 images. These small changes will make your presentation so much more entertaining. That being said, don't just read what the bullet point says. Expand on the topic. Most PowerPoint platforms include notes at the bottom, where you can put the complete content until you have memorized it.

Don't Read Your Slides
One of the most common mistakes people tend to make is reading off their slides. This prevents having eye contact with the audience, and also makes you drone on and on without any fluctuation in your voice. However, memorizing the content will liven up your presentation.  Memorization will also allow the presenter to answer questions from the audience more fluently. Actually knowing the content of your presentation without having to look through index cards will assist in answering questions that puzzle audience members.

Add Graphics To Your Slides
Graphics are some of the most important things you can include in your slides. These small changes can go a long way. The audience will have a better time viewing your slides. Knowing that audience members can lose interest in presentations that don't look entertaining, it is better to have animations as well. Any change in the style of the presentation will affect it way more than it may seem.

Make Your Slide Readable
A lot of presentations have a bad contrast between the color of the text and the background color. If the background of the slide is black, keep the text a lighter color. Avoid contrasting colors at all costs, as it can hurt the eye while reading. If necessary, highlight the text and make sure it is readable. However, highlighting removes some of the graphic from the slide and should be avoided unless it suits the presentation style.

1. Don't worry about your score. Scores don't really matter, especially the first time you present. Just try your best and you should be able to do well.

2. Dress formal. That being said, you don't have to over-do it with a suit, a coat, a tie, and whatnot.

3. Make the audience smile. Cracking a joke mid presentation is the best way to create a really good vibe. This joke should be related to your presentation, however.

4. Don't just keep a straight face the entire time. You can smile a bit, to lighten up the mood.

5. Show your passion for the subject. Choosing a subject that you are passionate about is crucial. The information will be really difficult to remember if you truly enjoy the subject. The audience can feel the mood you are conveying, and therefore it is important to really choose a topic that interests you, rather than one that may interest the audience.

6. Make eye contact with the audience. Eye contact is something that people normally overlook, but may be important to fully convey the message during a presentation.