ASU offers innovative public speaking lab
Arizona State University’s Communication Assessment and Learning Lab – CALL – is an innovative facility designed to help students and professionals overcome their public speaking anxieties. Located on ASU's West campus, CALL provides such invaluable services as speech review, mentoring and interviewing techniques.
Originally established in 2004 to help ASU students improve their written and verbal communication skills, the success of the center has resulted in its expansion to offering sessions to the local corporate community, public agencies and the general public.
“We’re here to help people sell their organization, persuade an audience, organize presentations, develop strong and effective delivery techniques and visual aids and, of course, get over their speech anxiety,” says Meg McConnaughy, CALL director and a 1994 West campus graduate.
“Preparation and knowledge are the pre-requisites for a successful presentation, and confidence and control are equally important,” she adds. “Participants leave with a solid understanding of their presentation, giving them the credibility and confidence to connect with their audience.”
With its recent reach into the private and public community, more than two dozen CALL mentors are actively working with a growing number of groups and individuals to sharpen and improve communication skills that ultimately lead to success in the boardroom, in the workday world and in life.
McConnaughy attributes much of the program’s success to its corps of mentors – qualified ASU students and alumni who have been selected based on faculty and staff referrals, as well as their maturity and proven ability to work well in a classroom situation. Additionally, mentors have successfully completed a public speaking course and have a history of overcoming speaking challenges.
“Our mentors did not start out as polished, confident speakers,” says McConnaughy. “In fact, it’s quite the opposite in most cases – they each have overcome their own public speaking issues. This is what makes the CALL mentors such excellent and successful teachers, because they can empathize with participants who are learning to conquer their own public speaking limitations.”
Mentors are also prepared to help participants select and create effective visual aids, including PowerPoint, that enable comprehension and enhance retention of their message. Mentors share ideas and proven methods that put real sizzle into presentations via visual images, charts, graphs and more.
“When you walk out of the lab, you know if your joke works and if your story is captivating,” McConnaughy says. “You know how you will be received by your audience, which is valuable feedback your mirror cannot provide.”