Confluence Chronicles – Where City & County Meet |

Confluence Chronicles – Where City & County Meet

Remember when you were in 4-H and it was time to give a demonstration or an illustrated talk? It was agony for many youngsters. The public speaking part was daunting but it was trying to put into words how to do something, even while having the benefit of visual aids, that was the real challenge.

I’ll bet that many of those who now make their living talking got their start in such programs. Teachers, preachers and corporate executives all had to begin somewhere and if they grew up rural, their background was likely in 4-H.

The basics of a demonstration are very simple – tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them.

If you think of it like that, it helps your mind cut to the chase and narrow your focus.

My biggest dilemma was trying to think of a topic. I was never very creative and the ideas just wouldn’t come. (I guess I’m a slow bloomer.) Once an idea took hold it was fairly methodical. Instructions, such as using two trays, one on each side of the demonstrator, helped keep things organized. The idea was everything that would be needed was on the first tray and as the items were used, such as the sugar and a measuring cup in a cake recipe, they would be placed on the second tray. It certainly kept double doses of some ingredient from finding its way into the batter. I wonder if that organizational method is still taught.

4-Hers were not to use anything that showed a brand name on the label; we were told to cover it with masking tape or put it into a neutral container. That may have changed over the years.

Knowing your way around the subject matter backwards and forwards helped ease nervousness. If you had only made a rope halter one time and tried to demonstrate that, it was probably not a very good demonstration.

But if you were like my brother, who made many before he gave his first talk and then went on to give the halter talk for several years in succession. Perhaps he was trying to reassure young members that doing a presentation wasn’t too hard, he thought they should learn how to make their own halters or he just didn’t want to come up with anything else. He was proficient and can still make a rope halter, if his arthritic hands will cooperate.

I was always in awe of the older kids who did outstanding work. The poise from practicing showed and audience members, even the adults, often learned new ideas and techniques.

Our son, Carl, who is now a rancher, had an over-the-top demonstration explaining dystocia or difficulty in calving. Using a homemade stuffed calf, which was being “born” through a turtleneck sweater,” his demonstration showed potential problems and how to pull a calf with chains, when warranted. It was such a great idea and served our son well. is the email address for comments that are always welcome.

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