Communication is a key part of leadership roles

Youth learning nonverbal cues is important in leadership positions.

Communication is a very important part of leadership, according to Michigan State University Extension. Each day youth are practicing their leadership skills in 4-H and learning how important communication is in being a good leader. 4-H uses hands-on activities to help youth practice skills like communication in their leadership activities. One such activity is found in the National 4-H Curriculum, Step up to Leadership Curriculum, for third through fifth graders.

I Didn’t See What You Said!, is an activity that talks about communication and recognizes that communication is not only what you say but includes nonverbal communication as well.  How can you communicate nonverbally?  Think about it.  What about the tone of a speaker’s voice?  Can you tell how someone feels about something when they talk by the sound of their voice?  The first thought is to think about what they say, but what about their tone?  Does their voice sound happy, sad, angry or freightened?  Then consider the volume.  What does it mean when someone talks loudly?  Generally when someone talks loudly it means that they feel strongly about what they are saying.  Lastly what is their body language?  Your body can emphasize or help with what you are trying to convey.  Body language can include things like facial expression, gestures and posture.

The Step up to Leadership activity has youth observe others when they are speaking and identifying the nonverbal communication in public situations.  The activity has young people watching others and recording the type of nonverbal techniques used during the conversation.  Participants are asked to watch conversations for nonverbal parts of the conversation.  After logging the nonverbal communication techniques, processing their results takes place by aksing what types of nonverbal cues were used the most during the conversations and if these nonverbals make the conversations understandable even without hearing the words. Asking youth why it is important to understand the clues in conversation, and how the nonverbal, can help them understand a conversation and what someone is really saying.  The Next Step part of the I Didn’t See what you Said!, activity lists three follow up activities to continue their exploration into communication and the use of nonverbal cues.

The Step Up to Leadership curriculum also has a workbook for 6-8th graders and one for 9-12th grade students. There is a mentor’s guide to accompany each unit as well.  Through the activities in this series, youth will learn many skills that will grow their leadership abilities.

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