New course helps teenagers find their voices

Teenagers can learn how to be confident speaking in public, be assertive and be proficient at debating at a new course being run in the city.

The six week Teeenvoices Galway course will begin on Wednesday and will run each week from 7pm to 8.30pm at the Irish Ambulance Training Institute, Unit 2 A Briarhill Business Park, Ballybrit.

“A fear of speaking in public is one of the greatest fears facing many people,” says Seamus Gallagher, a HR consultant and life coach who is running the course with Annabell Fitzgerald, a training consultant and James O’Neill, a director of Career Path, the training and development organisation.

“Research has shown that people fear speaking in public more than dying! So how do we address this issue? The best place to start is with young people. Teenvoices Galway is a course designed for teenagers to give them the tools to have a voice, be confident in speaking in public, be assertive and be proficient in debating.”

Mr Gallagher says while society has benefited enormously from the major technological advances being made in all forms of communication, we are at risk of losing our ability to connect with each other in a personal way.

“Technology has made it so that we do not even have to be face to face to communicate. I think there is even more of a need for our type of course because of the popularity of social media. Teenagers use it so frequently. We want to help them further develop their oral communication skills, by giving them another tool to express themselves face-to-face.”

Helping children prepare to face an audience socially or at school or in work situations has never been so important, he believes.

“More than ever there is a need to develop public speaking skills for the times when our teenagers are in front of an audience. This includes oral examinations for the Leaving Certificate, presentations at college and job interviews. All through life they are faced with the need to speak in front of groups such as at work to managers/customers, a family wedding, birthday party, work colleagues, a retirement event and local residents’ group. It is vital to have the confidence to take on these challenges without any fear and enjoy them. Being able to speak in public will do a lot for your confidence.

“People can go along to a public or work meeting for example and walk away from it without having made the point they wanted to. You can feel so mad afterwards and beat yourself up over it. You really need to be a good communicator nowadays. We teach listening skills at our courses also which are very important communication skills.”

The partners in Teenvoices carried out extensive research before designing the course which works with small groups, 10 to 15 teenagers at a time. This included discussion with parents, training consultants, organisations such as Toastmasters International and Speakers’ Club.

“The course is interesting, varied, fun and includes group and individual work,” according to Mr Gallagher.

“We try to get the teenagers talking about themselves, their favourite hobbies, games, what’s in the news, and the issues which affect them. We organise them into groups debating. Ultimately our aim is to give them confidence and get them used to speaking in public.

“Participants have said they enjoyed the course, learned a lot, and would recommend it to their friends. In feedback parents were delighted with it. On our last course we had an even mix of boys and girls. We would like eventually to bring it into schools as a TY module.”

The next Teenvoices course begins on Wednesday January 27 at 7pm and runs until Wed March 9 at the Irish Ambulance Training Institute, Unit 2 A Briarhill Business Park, Ballybrit. For further information contact Seamus Gallagher at (087 ) 2547748 or Annabell Fitzgerald at (086 ) 8565743 or email [email protected] The cost of the course is €75 or €15 per night.

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