Presentation Skills


As part of your Exchange, you will have several opportunities for “public speaking”.  These will range from simple introductions to new people (30 seconds – introduction) to as much as a full RYE presentation to your host Rotary Club (20 to 30 minutes – informational). Your audiences will usually be interested, supportive and really interested in you.

The success of each encounter will depend on how confident and comfortable you are, on your delivery, and on the information (content and organization).  We provide the framework, help you with the information, and provide some examples.  We also ask that you prepare a typical “speech” and give it for the Orientation class.  You will have the basics ready long before you leave for the exchange.

Throughout your exchange you will learn much and have new experiences that will add to your “stories”.  You must constantly update and change your introductions and “speeches” to include your new experiences.  You will also need to revise your speeches for new audiences and for your new language skills.  Keeping a diary (blog) of your experiences will be a valuable aid to keeping your “speeches” fresh and interesting for you and your audiences.

Finally nothing, NOTHING, beats practice.  Practice may not make “perfect” but it will make you better and more confident in any form of public speaking.  This skill is one of the most important for you now and throughout your career.  Good speakers are the exception and usually command more influence, status, and power that average.  This is a great step in making that happen.


Your exchange experience will include many opportunities to meet new people.  If your introduction is friendly, confident, and gives a good picture of you, it will open the door for developing friendships.  It exposes areas of common interests and connections.  It generates areas for questions and further conversation.

These “introductions” can be an informal meeting on the street to introducing yourself in the new school, to a more formal first introduction at a Rotary meeting.

Elevator Speech – This is your shortest introduction.  Imagine having 30 seconds in an elevator alone with someone who could offer you a great job.  Your task – introduce yourself and be interesting enough that they want to know more about you.

This is among the hardest speeches to do well.  It describes the essence of you, exactly who you ARE and what makes you really UNIQUE or interesting in about 60 words, or 4 sentences.

I am high school student on Rotary Youth Exchange from St. Louis MO in the US.  I am here in France to become fluent in French and understand more about French culture.  I  play competitive sports – soccer and swimming.  I also play piano and flute and have played in the St. Louis Youth Symphony.  When I return home, I have been accepted to  Harvard University to study law.  I hope to work in the State Department as a diplomat.

Formal Introduction – 2 to 4 minutes

This would be for an introduction to Rotary group, a high school class, or a group of people you might expect be with for a few hours or more.  The larger the group, the more information you may want to cover.  This makes for more possibility for some common connections.

You can take your elevator speech and flesh it out.  Now you have about 200 words, 4 – 5 to 5 paragraphs, in about 2 pages.  You can add information about your family and your home, your hobbies and interests and certainly more about the US.

However you still must keep it focused on the important information that make you unique and interesting.

Informative Speeches

These cover more than just you.  This could be information about Missouri – the history, the cultural background, common foods, events, and destinations.  Imagine you as the travel guide for future visitors.

You most important speech will be describing your experiences from your exchange experience.

Other subjects:

  • Sports in St. Louis
  • Higher Education in St. Louis
  • Presidential Elections in US
  • Leading Businesses in Missouri or St. Louis
  • World Class Institutions in St. Louis
  • European Heritage of St. Louis

You most important speech will be describing your experiences from your exchange experience.  Your host and sponsor Rotary clubs will want you to tell your stories about your exchange.  Your concerns and worries.  Your joys and excitement. Your experiences with your host families and new friends. They want to know what you have learned and how your view of the world has changed or expanded.  Tell them how you will remember and cherish the experience and thank them for their support.

They will also want to know how you use the experience.  How did it change you?  How will you apply this in your studies, or in you career?

A great way to prepare for this/these presentations is to write in your blog frequently.  Recording simple daily or weekly experiences will keep them in you thoughts.  Perhaps you will see patterns in your development.  Maybe you will start to see your initial perspectives change.  They will help you remember the many “short stories” that will make up your “autobiography” of the trip.


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