The Communication Center

Our Advice for your Visit

What are the consultations like?

Consultations are collaborations. Come with an idea of what you want to accomplish, whether it's brainstorming your topic, talking about your outline, rehearsing your speech, or anything else you'd like to work on.

Most of the students that we see want to "make it through" a speaking assignment, and we can help you prepare and rehearse. We can also help you work on your long-term speaking goals; if you have recordings of speeches you have given in the past, we can sit down and talk through it with you.

Ultimately, consultations are what you make them, so it helps to set specific goals for yourself or your group.

What should I do to prepare for my consultation?

For your appointment, bring what you have: the assignment description, a copy of your instructor's syllabus, outline drafts, research, note cards, PowerPoint slides, chocolate chip cookies.

...ok, the chocolate chip cookies aren't essential, but energy and optimism are invaluable in a consultation.

When should I schedule my consultation?

The Communication Center can help with all stages of the speech process: we can brainstorm topics, collaborate on outlines, discuss research strategies, give feedback on delivery, or collaborate on your visual aids.  So you should schedule your consultation depending on what element of the process you want to work on. You can come to the Center several times for any assignment, but no more than twice in a week, so space out your work!

If this is your first time coming into the Communication Center and you do want to work on your delivery, we recommend you schedule your consultation at least two days before you give your speech so you have time to incorporate our feedback. 

Do you have specific advice for group meetings?

You bet!  We recommend that groups schedule two-hour block (which is a 1.5 hour consultation): that leaves you enough time to all arrive, prepare, rehearse and get feedback.

I just walked into the 4th floor of Wilson... why am I at the Writing Center?

The University Writing Center and the Communication Center are both housed on the fourth floor of Wilson Hall.  Just tell the assistant at the front desk that you're here for a Communication Center consultation, and she will help you find your tutor.

Are all Communication Center tutors SCOM majors?

Nope!  While most of our tutors are from the School of Communication, we have tutors from the School of Media Arts and Design, Political Science, and Health and Human Services, to name a few.  Regardless of their major, all of our tutors have taken SCOM 335: "Speech Consulting" to prepare for their job, have participate in training, and attend weekly professional development meetings to be the best able to give you effective, learning-conscious feedback and collaborate on your speech. 

Why should I come into the Communication Center? 

It might seem like you could accomplish the same thing just practicing your speech in front of your roommate, but up at the Communication Center, our tutors offer some special expertise.  We see a bunch of speeches, so we know what students commonly struggle with when it comes to public speaking and we have a myriad of effective and memorable strategies on how to address them.

I hear you can record your presentation at the Communication Center.  What if I'm not ready to record or I don't want to?

If your goal is to improve your speech delivery, recording yourself can be a very effective strategy for noticing and addressing delivery concerns: you get to see what your audience will see! These recordings are completely confidential (via JMUTube) and we can send the unlisted URL to you.  However, we'll only record your speech if you want us to.

Do you guys only help with GCOM speeches?

Nope!  We're here to help with any speech you're working on, regardless of the class and even if it's not for a class!  We've helped students with valedictorian speeches, wedding toasts, and conference presentations to name a few. If you want help to better speak your mind, we're here to help!

I'm an English Language Learner and I want to practice speaking with native speakers.  Can I come to the Center for that?

At the Communication Center, we can help you work on enunciation and projecting your voice. If you would like English language support, check out English Language Learner Services.

I know my speech pretty well; why should I practice it aloud?

We are often confident about how a speech sounds in our head, but once we're in front of an audience, everything changes.  Even if you know your speech through and through, it's still helpful to pull up your PowerPoint, pull out your note cards, stand up before a tutor, and speak your mind.  We're there to help if you run into any bumps or if you realize that you have no idea what to do with your hands. I mean, seriously: what do they normally do?! 

Writing or speaking: what's the difference?

Actually, quite a bit. Reading a paper aloud usually isn't very interesting for your audience.  Even if the paper is written well, listeners usually have trouble following complex sentences that we're used to writing for college papers. 

If you want to impact your audience, you'll need to know how they thing and behave.  We can help you prepare for this by talking you through an audience analysis and collaborating on how to make your speech more easy on the ears.

If you have an assignment that includes both writing and presenting, consider an appointment with us and the JMU Writing Center.