youth standing at table with assorted props discussing cat behavior

Public Presentations

The Public Presentations Program is frequently referred to as the most beneficial and rewarding experience of all 4-H experiences!

2020 Dates

4-H Public Presentation Workshop

Saturday, January 11, 2020

9:30-11 am

Cornell Cooperative Extension, Hamden

Open to all 4-Hers who are interested in learning about the different types of public presentations, along with what is needed to create an effective and informative presentation. Emily Roach, 4-H Resource Educator, will also cover the importance of participating in public presentations.

To register or with questions, contact Emily: 607-865-6531;

Hope to see you on January 11th!

County 4-H Public Presentations

We are trying something a little different this year.  Hamden presentation times will be offered on a Friday evening and a Saturday morning.

Friday Evening: February 7, 2020; 5-8 pm; and

Saturday Morning: February 8, 2020; 9 am-1 pm

Both offerings will be held at Cornell Cooperative Extension, Hamden

Presenters may be eligible to compete at the district and state levels.

What are Public Presentations?

Public Presentations are an educational activity for all 4-H Members and Cloverbuds.  Members prepare a presentation on any topic they desire and give their presentations before a judge and a small audience.  It is recommended that all members are encouraged to participate. Clubs may have their members present at a club meeting in order to get ready for their presentation to the judge in February.   Arrangements can be made so that only the judge is in the room or the judge and parents and/or club members.

Objectives of the Public Presentation Program

Youth will . . .

  • Develop poise, self-confidence, concentration and the ability to think while presenting to the audience
  • Study more deeply the subject matter which is basic to project work
  • Develop leadership skills
  • Develop organizational skills
  • Develop skills in speaking before a group
  • Have the opportunity to teach others

Perks for Presenters

In addition to the incredible experience,

  1. All members participating in the program will receive a certificate.
  2. 4-Hers can do their presentation at County Fair where they receive a ribbon and premium.
  3. See the State Fair for Free! 4-Hers who do a presentation can choose to do it at The New York State Fair. Free fair entry and parking passes to get into the state fair for the parents and the child/children participating will be provided. In return for the passes, 4-Hers must do their presentation one time at the Delaware County booth.
  4. Teens who do a public presentation have priority over non-presenters when being asked to go to the State Fair to help the judges and to spend five days with 4-H educators and teens from all over New York State. This is a very rewarding and fun experience, just ask those who have attended.

Putting your Presentation Together


The introduction and the conclusion are the two most important parts of any presentation. A good introduction does two things. It gets the audiences attention and it states your purpose or gives the audience a clear idea of what the speech is about. Some attention getting devices include:

  • Topic Related Story – Your own experiences or those of your family or friends are the best sources. Be sure the story is related to the rest of your speech.
  • Quotation – Choose an appropriate selection from poetry or literature which is pertinent to your subject.
  • Question – Ask a question that will set your audience to thinking about your topic. Something like: When was the last time your bicycle had a safety check?
  • Shock Treatment – You may use a startling statistic or fact to open. Lead your audience to expect you to open in one way, then begin in a very different way. For example, remain silent when you are expected to begin talking; then state a dramatic fact about your subject.
  • The Purpose – After you have your audiences attention, state your purpose. Give them a brief, pointed statement. By all means, avoid apologetic statements such as try to, attempt to, or in the limited time allowed to me. Also, avoid vague phrases like: few of the reasons, or a little bit about. The statement should always be specific. Here are some examples: “A well balanced diet is necessary for a healthy body;” “4-H has expanded its programs to include areas never thought of 20 years ago;” ” Today, I will explain the five main points to look for when doing a bicycle safety check,” etc.


First jot down all the points that you would like to cover, regardless of their order or degree of importance. Then, by eliminating those that time won’t permit you to include and by combining those that are similar, you can cut the number in half. Finally, arrange the remaining points under two to four main headings. Remember, regardless of the attentiveness of your audience, the importance of the topic, your ability, and the allotted time, the fewer main ideas you present, the more successful you will be.


In your conclusion restate your objective or purpose for giving the presentation. Keep your conclusion brief. It can be handled in several sentences. Always reemphasize your main points, being sure not to bring in any new ideas.

Now it’s time to Practice, Practice, Practice!

Practice is essential to help the 4-H member feel at ease and confident when giving the presentation before a larger group. Encourage members to give their presentation to themselves in front of a mirror, to their family, to friends, and to the club before the county program. You may want to experiment with videotaping and have the 4-Hers critique themselves.

FAQ & Other Helpful Information

Why do a Public Presentation?

Being able to speak well in public is a skill that can help you teach, persuade or entertain others. Good speakers, such as Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King had the ability to accomplish great things because they knew how to deliver their message in a way that made people want to listen.  Public presentations give 4-H members an excellent opportunity to research a subject, organize ideas in logical order, develop visual aids, and learn to speak effectively in front of groups. With each public presentation completed, there is an increase in self-confidence, poise, self-esteem, stage presence and knowledge. Public presentations can teach a 4-Her lifetime skills that will be useful in his or her future social, educational, and career pursuits.  It is important for 4-Hers to begin doing public presentations at an early age and continue throughout their 4-H career. Public speaking skills develop over time, with experience and repetition.

If it is not Visible, it is not Visual

Preparing visuals (posters, charts, or models) for your presentation should be carefully thought out. A few well chosen visuals can make the difference between success and failure in a presentation. But, do not over visualize. Use them only if they add to the presentation. When its impossible to use the actual object in the demonstration, then well done posters, charts, drawings or models are effective. Posters or other visuals should be eye-catching, simple in design, uncluttered, neat and large enough for all the audience to see.

Giving the Presentation ~ Tips & Tricks

  1. You are a part of the presentation. Wear clothing that feels comfortable and is suitable for your topic. Your posture and grooming will be noticed.
  2. Arrange your working space and equipment before you start so everything is convenient. Keep the space in front of you clear all the time so the group can see what you are doing.
  3. Explain each step as you work, but do not lecture. It is not necessary to talk every minute, but avoid long pauses. Do not attempt talking while using noisy equipment.
  4. Use simple terms and simple language. Know your facts and explain them in your own words. Long memorized sentences which you do not understand are not effective.
  5. Speak slowly and distinctly to your group. Be sure that they hear you. Face your audience as much as possible and look at them rather than out of the window or down at your work. Try not to let outside noises disturb you. Be sure to smile.
  6. Make posters simple and large enough for everyone to see. Too many ideas or pictures on one poster are confusing. Plan just how and when you will use them.
  7. Avoid disturbing mannerisms. Do not put your hands in your pockets or rock back and forth on your heels. Avoid the use of “uh” between words. Do not chew on gum, pencil, toothpick or other objects.

Food Presentations – Helpful Hints

Food demonstrations take a great deal of organization and preparation before and during the presentation. Listed below are some hints which will help you organize a foods presentation.

  1. Containers – Do not clutter your counter. Use small containers for small amounts and large for large amounts. Cover any commercial labels that are showing with white paper and masking tape. Label what is in the container (i.e.: if you are using Crisco cover with paper and label shortening.). Loosen or remove lids before starting demonstration.
  2. Bowls – If possible, use clear glass or plastic bowls, so everyone can see what you are doing.
  3. Measuring Equipment – Use liquid measuring cups for liquids and dry measuring cups for dry ingredients. Use a spatula or straight knife edge to level dry ingredients. Some ingredients may be pre-measured at home, but measure at least one dry and one liquid ingredient. Crack eggs with a knife or spatula in a separate bowl.
  4. Tray Set-up – Arrange equipment and ingredients on a tray to one side, on the other side place an empty tray. Keep tall items in the back. Arrange in order used. Make diagram of tray so you can setup tray quickly. As equipment is used, move from one tray to empty tray. Before beginning, tray should be covered with clean dish towel. When demonstration is over, cover both trays.
  5. Appearance – Hair should be pulled back. Wear apron, but do not wipe hands on it. Keep hand or dish towel handy. Be neat.
  6. Work quietly – Damp cloth under bowl deadens sound and prevents slipping. Wooden spoons are quieter. Do not hit spoons or beaters against sides of bowls, tap against your hand.
  7. Grand Finale – Before you display your finished product, cleanup everything. Keep final product out of sight until you plan to show it. Evaluators should always be served a sample of the finished product.

Try Creative Communications

Creative Communication bridges the gap between message-delivery and the performing arts. Art forms such as recitation, dramatic interpretation, puppetry, skits, clowning, singing, music, and story telling are used as the vehicle for conveying a message. Currently the New York State 4-H Youth Development staff has elected to emphasize recitation and dramatic interpretation (as defined below) from among the options in this category.


The presenter, with the use of vocal inflection and body language as communication tools, delivers their rendition of a piece of pre-written material. Props should not be used, but appropriate dress to subtly represent the character or mood of the written piece is acceptable. Dress should not overwhelm the oral presentation. Memorization is expected. No teams are allowed in recitation.

Dramatic Interpretation

The presenter or team delivers a re-enactment of a piece of scripted material. Content of presentation can be taken from plays, movies, sketches, and monologues – dramatic or comedic. This form of presentation, by definition, should include props and costumes. Props need to be simple and minimal, not detracting from the strength of the presenter(s). However, Creative Communication also needs an introduction, body, and summary. Leaders must sign up those doing Creative Communication on the same sheet as you sign up those doing a public presentation. A different evaluation form will be used for Creative Communications and a copy will be sent to those participating in that area.

How Can I Control my Nervousness when Presenting?

It may surprise you, but being nervous can help your presentation. You need to be a little nervous to be a good speaker. Good speakers control their nervous energy and use it to make their presentation sound more exciting. Here are some tips to keep your nerves under control.

  1. Practice. It is your best weapon against being nervous. Try practicing aloud in front of a mirror so that you can see what your audience will be seeing.
  2. Remember a good feeling before you speak. For example, think about when you first got your dog or when you succeeded in doing something you had worked hard on.
  3. Avoid standing with your fists clenched or your knees locked because this will make you more tense.
  4. Make sure your equipment is working and in a convenient spot before you start to speak. For example, if you need to use the blender at the beginning of your demonstration, make sure it is in a spot you can reach quickly and easily.

Remember, even the best speakers get nervous. You will probably be most nervous just before your speech and during the introduction. If you remember that, these will be the two most difficult times, then you can relax once you begin your presentation. Remember that the audience is on your side. No one wants to see you do poorly, so remain calm and confident. What Makes A Good Presenter? and How Can I Control My Nervousness? is information found in the publication called Public Speaking Made Easy by Darlene Ortiz. This publication has many other suggestions for public presentations. For a copy of the publication, contact the 4-H Office.

Horse Presentations

Horse Public Presentations offer 4-Hers the opportunity to take their presentations beyond the county level. One may qualify at the county level to compete at Regionals – to try to advance to State, with seniors competing at State for a chance to go to Nationals. But, it all starts on county day in Febraury. A 4-Her must take part in the county presentation program  if they wish to go on. There are three areas for horse:

  1. Individual Demonstration
  2. Public Speaking
  3. Team Demonstrations

Even if a 4-Her has no desire to go beyond the local program, giving a presentation is a superb learning experience. They learn to research their topic, plan the presentation and develop self-confidence.

For more information, contact Emily Roach

4-H Resource Educator

(607) 865-6531