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Speaker confidence is key to 'successful presentation'

April 06, 2006

Arizona State University’s Communication Assessment and Learning Lab – or CALL – is an innovative facility designed to help students and professionals overcome their public speaking anxieties. CALL provides such services as speech review, mentoring and interview techniques. Sessions are videotaped and reviewed to give participants the skills they need to become polished presenters.

“Preparation and knowledge are the prerequisites for a successful presentation, and confidence and control are equally as important.” said Meg McConnaughy, director of CALL at ASU’s West campus. “Participants leave with a solid understanding of their presentation, giving them the credibility and confidence to connect with their audience.”

CALL was originally established in 2004 to help ASU students improve their verbal and written communication skills. When first opened, CALL was available only to West campus public speaking students. However, demand for services became so great ASU made CALL available to all Valley residents.

Today, more than two dozen CALL mentors assist hundreds of ASU students, business professionals and public agencies – such as Maricopa County Superior Court and the Arizona Department of Energy – with their public speaking and presentation skills.

McConnaughy credits much of the center’s success to its mentors: students and alumni volunteers. CALL mentors are selected based on referrals from faculty and staff, as well as their maturity and ability to work well in a classroom situation. Also, they must successfully complete a public speaking class and have a proven history of overcoming public speaking challenges.

“Our mentors did not start out as polished, confident speakers,” said McConnaughy. “In fact, they each have overcome their own public speaking issues. This makes CALL mentors excellent 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 – such as PowerPoint – that enable comprehension and enhance retention of their message. Students learn to successfully incorporate bullet points and effectively communicate to the audience using charts, graphs and images.

Despite the center’s growing demands, nothing surpasses the importance of providing speakers of all levels the opportunity to overcome their fears, hone their abilities and transform themselves into polished presenters.

“When you walk out of the lab you know if your joke works and if your story is captivating,” McConnaughy said. “You know how you will be received by your audience. This is valuable feedback your mirror cannot provide.”

Located in the Faculty Administration Building, CALL is open 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday. For further information contact (602) 543-5766, visit, or e-mail