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Elevator speeches for youth

By Nicole Kudrle

4-H girl giving a speech to group of youth gathered in a circle
I attended a kickoff event for 4-H youth leaders in part of the northeast region in Minnesota. At this event, youth learned all about what it means to be a 4-H youth leader in their county, what they can do as a youth leader, and got to know other youth who also wanted to be a leader in their county. 

After the meeting, I had a conversation with a few youth about how the event went for them and what they enjoyed the most. The conversation then led into what the youth wanted to learn about this year. The thing that stood out to me during our conversations was the youth wanted to learn how to talk to the public about 4-H. The youth indicated that they often talk with friends, family, and sometimes the media about their experiences in 4-H and they are always at a loss for what to say. 

Youth are the heart of the 4-H organization and as youth get older they spend more time talking with friends about what they are passionate about. These conversations are really word of mouth marketing for any organization that they are involved in. 

Word of mouth marketing is the most effective way to tell people about your organization. There are five benefits from word of mouth marketing
  1. It builds trust with those that are looking to be a part of your organization. 
  2. It leads to longer and more in depth conversations versus a simple ad. 
  3. It doesn't cost your organization anything. 
  4. It boosts the loyalty of those within the organization. 
  5. It brings awareness to your organization. 

Why is this important in youth work? Organizations set yearly goals to increase membership. Since word of mouth is the most effective way to promote an organization and youth are the heart of the organization, youth should be trained to effectively market the organization. Youth also have the opportunity to gain communication skills, public speaking self-efficacy, self confidence, and more. 

As professionals, we received training on what elevator speeches are and how to prepare them. It is just as important that participants in youth organizations learn about elevator speeches. Here are some tips for youth to use when giving elevator speeches:
  1. Keep it short. The speech should be very brief, around 30 seconds and about 4 to 5 sentences long. 
  2. Be sincere. Show the person you are passionate about the organization. 
  3. Introduction. Tell the person your name, and how you are connected to the organization.
  4. Personalize it. Tell the person what the organization means to you. You can tell them about an experience, something you learned, your favorite part, or why you choose to be involved. 
  5. Wrap up. Thank the person for listening and ask for questions. 
When teaching youth about elevator speeches or public speaking, make sure to make it fun, engaging, and incorporate hands-on learning. 

What tips do you have to teach youth about elevator speeches? What strategies do you use to ensure youth feel supported when talking to others? What is something you are considering to help youth be effective marketers?

-- Nicole Kudrle, Extension educator

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  1. Great insight! And what better spokes persons than our youth in our programs!


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