Speaking in front of a group of strangers might give some butterflies in their stomach. But for the 11 teenagers who recently graduated from the Toastmaster Teen Leadership Program, such effects are no longer a problem.
The Toastmaster Teen Leadership Program, which was held at the Savannah Rapids Pavilion from May 24 to June 7, is a joint program between Toastmaster International and the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service. It is designed to help teenagers become more effective and confident public speakers.
The program, in its eighth year in Columbia County, teaches techniques such as eye contact, voice volume and body language, and is designed to ease some of the fears of speaking in public.
"Hopefully, when they finish, they won't be shaking in their knees when they have to speak," said Jean Embry, who teaches the program.
Embry, an adjunct professor at Paine College and professional storyteller, was a past district governor of the Georgia Toastmasters, and also teaches the students the proper way to hold a Toastmaster meeting.
"It was really fun," said Maryum Styles, 14. "I learned not to say 'Um' and 'Ah', and how to make eye contact and use my body language."
The program culminated in a graduation ceremony where each student gave a speech, showing off newly acquired skills.
"I feel much more confident now" Pooja Kondur said. "I really think that what I learned here will help me in the future."
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