True leaders practice public speaking

Learn about MSU Extension’s Communications Toolkit and practice important public speaking tips.

Are you interested in advancing your leadership position? If so, then effective public speaking skills are very important. “Leadership: A Communication Perspective” by M.Z. Hackman and C.E. Johnson states that effective public speaking skills are a necessity for all leaders. If you want people to follow you, you have to communicate effectively and clearly what followers should do. One of the most important skills for leaders to develop is their public speaking skills and their presentation skills.

4-H programs offer young people a safe opportunity to sharpen their public speaking skills and advance their leadership. Whether they are running a club meeting, delivering a health and safety speech, leading younger children in games, speaking during a committee meeting or even presenting themselves to public officials, public speaking is a skill they polish during their 4-H years.

As 4-H leaders and mentors, there are several things we can do to help 4-H members to be better public speakers, help them build confidence in this area and ultimately grow in their leadership skills. Michigan State University Extension has a great resource, Communications Toolkit, in order to help leaders develop their vocal expression and public speaking. A key component to developing public speaking skills is a safe and comfortable setting for individuals to learn in. A 4-H leader and club and can provide this setting for individuals to learn and grow. Participating in public speaking activities helps young people learn some of the following life skills: organizing their thoughts and ideas, flexibility in adapting information to different audiences, confidence in sharing their ideas, evaluating their work and setting goals for improvement.

By using the Communications Toolkit, teen leaders can learn the following skills through interactive lessons and activities:

  • Delivering a vocal presentation
  • Using visual aids
  • Overcoming stage nerves
  • Writing for public speaking
  • Icebreakers
  • Speech warm-ups

MSU Extension’s Communications Toolkit is an excellent resource to assist any individual in advancing their communication skills. The 4-H Leadership Civic Engagement work team is available to work with groups on public speaking as it is an important life skill to perfect when advancing your leadership skills. For more information, contact the 4-H Leadership Civic Engagement work team at

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