New center assists with communication skills

Marcus Williams visits the Speaking Center and receives assistance from consultants.

The Speaking Center at Mississippi State University is a new resource that aims to improve the public speaking skills of students and faculty.

Within a 30-minute consultation session, trained consultants at the Speaking Center can help with specific assignments and general speaking improvement.

Cheryl Chambers, an instructor of communications at MSU, said the center is currently geared towards students and faculty, but the goal is to spread beyond campus and allow availability to members of the community.

“We saw other similar entities on campus like the Writing Center and the Career Center, and we wanted to be able to offer something to help in this particular area since it is something that a lot of students struggle with,” Chambers said.

According to Chambers, students do not have to come in with a speech for class in order to meet with a consultant.

Chambers said anyone can attend an appointment public speaking tips.

Chambers reinforced the center's goal to be another layer of assistance for improving communication skills.

"While young people are becoming excellent when it comes to technology and interacting in that form, I believe that the face to face, and specifically public speaking skills, are becoming less common, less used, which means that we want to see more improvement in that area," Chambers said.

Chambers added that employers rank communication skills very high when considering future employees.

Lana Estes, a senior communication major and former intern of the center, agreed.

Estes said most working professionals utilize public speaking as a part of their jobs, so working on these skills is vital to future career opportunities.

"The goal is to meet students where they are at and help them improve," Estes said.

Estes said students should leave their sessions with an increased confidence in their abilities.

Besides specific assignment assistance, Elly Lamb, a senior communication major, said the real goal of the center was the gained improvement in confidence.

"The Speaking Center is a great resource to allow people the opportunity to develop themselves in ways that they have not had the chance to in high school or college," Lamb said.

Estes shared the same opinion.

"Public speaking is important not just for their grades but for their life," Estes said.

Hope Kullman, junior communication major and Speaking Center intern, emphasized the training consultants and interns go through to help students with public speaking.

Kullman compared the consultants to the Supplemental Instruction leaders on MSU's campus.

Kullman said the center is not driven for specific classes, so it is open to all students of all majors.

“I just think it is so cool that we have a place where students can come and leave with a weight lifted off of their chest,” Kullman said.

To spread the word about this free resource, staff from the Speaking Center held the Snack and Chat event on March 29 in the Dawg House.

Lamb described the event with enthusiasm.

“We felt like having it at the Dawg House was a great way to get traffic from students because everybody is in the Union,” Lamb said.

According to Lamb, at least 309 students were able to visit and learn more about this new resource.

Guests had snacks and spend time mingling with staff of the Speaking Center. Students could to write about their public speaking fears and personal goals.

According to Chambers, the event was essentially an open house for the Speaking Center.

Chambers said the goal of this event was to expose students to a resource that they might not have known existed.

For more information on events and speaking assistance, visit The Speaking Center website. 

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