Skip to main content
4-H youth participate in a rowing activity at Camp Cloverleaf in Lake Placid.


The 4-H Public Speaking School Enrichment Program annually helps more than 150,000 children in grades 4-6 learn how to write and deliver a speech, providing them the skills to communicate with clarity and comfort, and to think quickly and nimbly.

logo for 4-h public speaking school enrichment program, w/ fpl as sponsorAt its core, the program allows students to work on a speech of their choice, guided by a teacher. Speeches must last at least two minutes, but no longer than three, and visual aids are not permitted. Teachers select the top three speeches in each class, and those students earn honor ribbons. Next, each participating school selects its top three speeches, with those students earning medallions. Finally, judges choose the top four speeches at a countywide contest, and those students each earn a plaque.

For more details about the program, click a header below to expand that section and view its contents (show all items).


With any school program, its success can be credited to the classroom teacher. We appreciate your eagerness to participate. Your students will thoroughly enjoy this hands-on, learning-by-doing activity.

Why is public speaking important? As an educator, you know that many problems in our fast-paced society arise, not because we don’t know the answers, but because we cannot communicate effectively.

The best time to teach people to talk and think on their feet is when they are young. This is the objective of the 4-H Public Speaking Program. The program is administered through the 4-H Youth Development Program, Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Florida.

The program is structured to be a part of everyday classroom activities. In addition, the excitement of a competition is added. A real challenge occurs when children prepare to express themselves in front of an audience. Some students overcome their initial fear of public speaking more easily than others. The emphasis of the program is on the growth of every student participant. It is important for all young students to have an opportunity to take pride in the expression of their ideas.

General Guidelines

The program is designed to give 4th-, 5th- and 6th-grade students experience in the preparation and delivery of a speech. Typically, there is an elementary school competition for 4th- and 5th-grade students, and a middle school competition for 6th-grade students. Each participating teacher should plan to spend one week on the program. The suggested outline in this booklet has produced excellent results in the past. However, each classroom is different. Teachers may make changes in order to adapt to the activities of their students and the available time frame.

Student objectives:

  • Recognize the necessity of obtaining as much information as possible on a given topic.
  • Carefully organize the material to be presented in a timely and orderly speech.
  • Develop a pleasing personal style before an audience.
  • Acquire the ability to speak convincingly in public and to express ideas effectively.
  • Develop confidence and poise.

Teacher responsibilities:

  • Help students create, write and present speeches.
  • Choose the classroom winner to perform in the school competition.
  • Select one overall school winner to attend the county competition.
  • Prepare the school winner for the county competition.

Speech guidelines:

  • Speeches must be specifically prepared for the program.
  • Speeches must be original and relate to the student’s interests.
  • Speeches should be no less than two minutes and no more than three minutes in length. NOTE: Penalties are given for shorter or longer speeches.
  • No visual aids are allowed when giving a speech. NOTE: Note cards are not considered visual aids and may be used. However, costumes, props and pictures are considered visual aids.
  • Students who participate more than one year must create a different speech each year.
Classroom Competition

Classroom judging is the teacher’s responsibility. The teacher may select the winner or invite others to judge. Other methods appropriate for a particular classroom may be used. Winners are selected based upon the highest number of accumulated points from the suggested judging sheets located on the 4-H website.

Classroom Competition Awards

  • A blue ribbon is awarded to the first-place classroom speaker.
  • A red ribbon is awarded to the second-place classroom speaker.
  • A white ribbon is awarded to the third-place classroom speaker.
School Competition

Each first-place classroom winner advances to a school competition. Winners are selected based upon the highest number of accumulated points during judging. Teachers may coordinate the school competition in any of the following ways. These examples are only suggestions:

  • The competition may be held during a school assembly or as an after-school activity.
  • Include the contest as part of a P.T.A. function.
  • Teachers or qualified guests may serve as judges.

School Competition Awards

  • A gold medallion with a blue ribbon is awarded to the first-place speaker.
  • A silver medallion with a red ribbon is awarded to the second-place speaker.
  • A bronze medallion with a white ribbon is awarded to the third-place speaker.
County Competition

First-place speakers from each school present their speeches at a final county competition which is coordinated by the County 4-H Cooperative Extension Office. Winners are selected based upon the highest number of accumulated points on judging sheets located on the 4-H website. Parents, teachers and friends are invited to attend, and the date and location are announced by the local 4-H agent.

  • A plaque with a gold medallion is awarded to the first-place speaker.
  • A plaque with a silver medallion is awarded to the second-place winner.
  • A plaque with a bronze medallion is awarded to the third-place winner.
  • A plaque with a green medallion is awarded to the fourth-place winner.

Enroll your class (or multiple classes) quickly and easily using our online form. Simply select the 4-H Public Speaking Program option at the top of the form, and then provide basic information about yourself, your school and your students (e.g., what grade level, how many, etc.). Once you have completed and submitted the form, we will process the information, and then prepare and deliver a package of program materials for you.

If you have any questions or need help, please call 3-1-1 or email

As an educator, your role in the success of this program is vital. UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County, and 4-H appreciate your contribution to developing our future leaders.